The Curse Of The Old Gnarly Hand That Makes Me Nervous, Even Scared…

I know it has been some time since I have written anything that was old dude related but I think it is time to share something with my friends about my fears and my phobias. I know you have heard this statement before and I am not sure if I even have it right but it goes a little something like this……… “Youth is squandered on the young”. Have you heard this before? I think it means that, when we are young, we are too stupid to realize it. That youth has certain advantages that being young prevents us from realizing until we are old or at least older. I will be fifty-one this year, I used to think that was really old but now it just feels “older”. When we are young, we heap tons of abuse upon ourselves and wake up the next day and have at it again. We flaunt our youthful vitality at the old without even realizing it. You start out really young and you have to listen to your parental figure and if you did not you were punched. You did things that you did not want to do only to avoid punishment. You took out the trash, did the dishes, you ate food like broccoli and you did it with a grimace because you hated those things, all the while counting down the days until you turned old enough to say adios to them fools and on to our own long life of intelligent decisions. Now I can eat Lucky Charms anytime I want. Beer… sure, why not. Stay out till 6am on a work night, no problem, I am old enough to make my own decisions, I’m a big boy now. Big boys do what they want not what someone else wants them to do, unless it is for money. Well, we go through the motions of youth and before we know it, youth is on the backside of life and that’s when “getting old begins”. How do we know when getting old is starting? Well there are certain milestones that we have to pass and we usually pass them without realizing them until it becomes too late. You are now older than your average Playboy centerfold. Well, speaking of that, I knew I was getting old at twenty-two. You can no longer party all night and work all day. Now its more like“party all night, call in with the flu”. Eat what you want, it wont hurt you turns into eat what you want, the fat is gonna kill you. You start to like country music. Some of your shows now include a variety of PBS choices. NPR is now pretty cool. You notice grass that needs water. You become very conscious of the fact that you may be older than everyone in this club by twenty years when you ask a girl if you could buy her a drink and she laughs and says, “yeah right pops”.  You go to Save More Liquors on Lincoln Ave. just to feel young again. And finally you begin to understand what they meant when they said, “there’s no fool like an old fool”. These things, they have been happening to me with a frequency that I do not wish to admit, but what really has pushed me over the edge is one thing. There has been nothing in my life that has defined old, miserable and decrepit than this one thing. I have had nightmares of this since I was a boy and I always admired the fact that “it ain’t hit me yet”. Well my friends, as I live and barely breathe (from years of cigarettes), I have finally realized my own mortality may very well be upon me. The nightmare has happened and it seems overnight too. I am becoming an old dude. You see Friday night I was getting home from BINGO and as I removed my socks and sandals,  I saw it. Plain as the sun at noon there it was, right on my hand. A wicked brown dot. Just one mind you but a dot just the same. I think my granny called them liver spots. I can only picture the hand of an evil wicked crone, wrinkled and twisted like the roots of some old swampy cypress tree. Dotted and spotted with those “liver spots”. I can only remember that hand reaching out and grabbing my collar as a young boy. Grabbing me and saying, “come on Way-nee, give your nanna a nice hug and kiss”.Yes sir, if I followed that twisted appendage to its origin, there sat my great-grandmother, Nanny Inez. She was in a wheel chair that had a cup holder clipped on one arm and an ashtray holder clipped on the other arm. She was fond of kissing me too, almost to the point of weirdness. And those hands, one twisted and spotted and it seemed, permanently attached to a tall glass of what she called “her medicine”. Today I know her medicine to be Smirnoffs Vodka mixed with Fresca, and that other gnarly appendage, permanently yellowed from what was apparently a Pall Mall Cigarette that never went out. She smelled like Purell and smoke. always. Even at her wake, I dared to venture a peek into her casket. I stepped upon the padded board that was used for my more pious of relatives to kneel and pray at. I stepped up to see my first dead body and the first thing I noticed was her smell. Even in death it was vodka and cigarettes, not the embalming fluid smell of the rest of the funeral home. The second thing was her hands. Knotted at her chest and loaded with liver spots. As I said, I have had nightmares about those hands man, reaching out and grabbing me by the throat and hauling me into a huge, doughy set of droopy wet lips. All the while I am struggling to get away yet those spotted hands gripped like cables. It was not the face of my nanna but the face of an old homeless lady I had seen in Lincoln Park pushing a cart full of smelly clothes and filthy luggage, pulling me in and just before I get to her face I would always wake up, sweating with an uncontrollable urge to pee. Man do I have issues. Well I have always equated liver spots with old age and always swore that it will never happen to me. Now look, a liver spot, on my hand, old age. If you had asked me when I was twenty I would have said “live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse”. If you had asked me when I was thirty, I would have said, it’s a miracle. If you had asked me at forty I would have said “I ain’t so old”, and if you ask me at fifty, I am gonna tell you that I am darn glad to be here. I will just have my hands in my pockets.

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