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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Visiting children and grandchildren

I have mentioned how I came to be in the state of Washington right now. The trip has triggered some “three score and ten” reflections:

Airports and airlines are not designed for the aged and infirm. That is not to say that some airports don’t make a real effort to make it easier on the old and infirm. Wheel chairs can be arranged to meet the plane. Shuttles are on hand and easy to arrange, and if you are broke, you can even get away with stiffing the driver/wheelchair pusher. Sometimes being in a wheelchair can be a real asset. I remember one occasion when we (Janet, myself, one daughter, one son and daughter-in-law and four kids) had to change planes at London-Heathrow, when, if I hadn’t been in a wheelchair, we never would have made the flight. The driver bypassed checkpoints and rolled through others (with the crowd following him) and we barely made the plane. If we had stopped at all the stopping points, and not taken short cuts we might still be sitting there in Heathrow.

Having said that, some things remain.. Elderly kidneys and bladders do not function the same in old folks as they do in the non-coot world, and restrooms are always placed just out of reach of a shuffling old coot (or cootess). I am always in awe at whatever air-freshener is used to keep airports from smelling like old movie houses on forty second street in Manhattan. (If the old movie house metaphor is beyond your memory, just envision a thousand people urinating in a closed building twice every three hours for ten years—joined to other fragrances that I will not describe, in sympathy with the softer sensitivities of some readers). One of my chief ambitions in life is to get from (any) here to (any) there by air without either wetting my pants or feeling, for hours, that I am about to do so. (This is NOT one of the great feelings to anticipate.)

I have yet to figure out what intense pleasure the “crossing guards” (I know that’s not the proper term, but they are so much like the crossing guards of my childhood that it seems appropriate) get from trying to intimidate old folks, especially old folks with joint replacements and man-made interior hardware. My poor wife’s replacement knees seem to create very nearly the level of hysteria that would rise from crates of plastic explosives.)

Waiting areas are always organized so that the TV is just almost loud enough to hear or blurry enough that one can’t read the captions. ( Of course, new spectacles might help.) Additionally the “guard your baggage” rule means that when coots and cootesses travel together, one or the other is always sitting in an uncomfortable chair bouncing up and down in desperation waiting for the other one to come back from the facility (see above).

Entering the plane is a particular pain, because, in spite of so-called modern sensitivity, the extra time it takes for the coot group to get bags into the overhead or under the seats and getting themselves into the seats ALWAYS results in someone saying in a not so “sote” sote voce “What is holding everything up? I can’t stand here forever!”, or some similar thing.

After the flight is over and you have had the joy of seeing kids and grandkids, you are immediately reminded that the very nicest grandchildren in the world have periodic if not frequent “Eddie Haskell” moments (If you are unfamiliar with Eddie Haskell, you are too young to be allowed at the computer by yourself or you should google “Eddie Haskell”).

What is particularly disconcerting is when you see them with their peers EXCHANGING Eddie Haskell moments. That seems impossible, but it isn’t.

I have had a WONDERFUL two weeks in Washington but already am thinking wistfully about watching the news without depriving someone youthful of Dora the Explorer and sinking softly into my own king size(pre-heated) waterbed and sloshing from side to side. Another wistful thought has to do with getting back to my own computer, which, with all its flaws, has flaws with which I am familiar.

Well we leave for PDX in a couple of hours to get ready for the red-eye flight to Jacksonville, FLA. Hope to sleep most of the way, but something tells me there is a secret sadist out there in the air-stream ready to meet me.


At 5:55 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Have fun on your trip! Take lotsa pics! My dad has had prostate cancer twice, so he suffers quite a bit when a restroom is out of reach - you're right.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

You're getting rather risque in your old age - but then I've always been a fan of toilet humor.

At 5:49 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

Never could understand how some people actually enjoy flying. When I fly to visit the inlaws who live literally half way around the world, I would almost rather be a prisoner at Abu Ghraib instead of living in airports and flying in a tin tube with hundreds of other people..

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Patrick, its only humor when you are reading about it. When you're there, aint nothing funny about it.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

It was a humorous read, no doubt about it! You just write so well, and your brand of humor is exquisite.

I'm happy for you that you are coming home. It's nice to visit, but there is never anyplace as nice to be as at home. Welcome home!

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

I also found this a funny read. I am sure it is not a laughing matter when you are living it.

Glad you got to see the grands and enjoy the "Haskel" moments! At least you are a wise coot who realizes that those moments are a right of passage.

Just like Dorothy said, "there is no place like home." Sleep well suspended on a large body of water. ;o)

At 4:29 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

05 06 06

Hey Richard! Glad to know you are having an active time on your trip, but sad about the inconveniences. I have some bladder trouble and am not yet a coot, but feel that inconvenience. And why in tarnation do those damnable crossing guards get jollies from harassing older folks? I just don't get this world anymore.

Your mask materials for the costume in the previous post were cool! I would never have thought about coupling a gas mask to a regular animal mask how clever! Oh, you have been in theatre for so long the creativity must come naturally!

Take Care and be back safely!

At 2:55 AM, Blogger Norma said...

You have been memorialized at my blog (quote at the top) for the astute airport smell comment.


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