I don’t know how long I’m going to live but when it’s all said and done it will never be said that I led a dull life. Something interesting seems to happen every day or two and I’m certainly glad that I can pass some of the lessons along so that you might be able to avoid a few of the pitfalls I have tumbled headlong into. Contrary to what the title of this column might indicate, my offering today has nothing to do with errors within the banking system – although from time to time Charles or Andrew (my banking buddies) will have to give me a gentle reminder about a certain lack of prowess in adding and subtracting dollar amounts as it relates to my checking account.
No, today is more about how the aging human brain works in conjunction with the aging human mouth and that if the two don’t work in concert there can be humiliating and even debilitating consequences. Let me explain.
I live on a private dirt road and along with some of my neighbors we try to keep it in respectable condition. My role in this undertaking is to keep the weeds off the side of the road so that one does not think they are entering a jungle when they drive on it. So my weed-eater and I journey up one side and down the other during the grass growing months of the year cleaning it up. Now don’t get me wrong. It still doesn’t look like Magnolia Lane but as a result of much sweating and grunting it is neatly trimmed.
A few days ago I was preparing to work on my little project and I heard a car with a big engine roaring down our quaint little road. It sounded like a logging operation at full throttle and although I couldn’t see it, I could clearly hear it and it whizzed me off pretty bad. After all we spend good money keeping our road smooth and graveled. The perpetrator was gone by the time I actually got up to the road to begin my duties so I just settled in and began whacking away at the offending weeds.
A few minutes later the race car wannabe made a return trip and came boiling back up the road in what he must have considered was turn number two at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. I could tell by the engine sound that it was the same dude who had gone by earlier and he added insult to injury by throwing an empty beer bottle onto an area that I had just cleaned up the previous day. It was at that precise moment that I completely lost my renowned cool and the little bit of testosterone I’ve got left all flooded into my brain and right on into my mouth. I stepped out in the middle of his race track, stopped him and said, “What in the #$%& do you think you are doing throwing your nasty trash on our road?” I pause here to give you some details about my newest adversary. He was a young fella who looked as if he’d been using methamphetamines since puberty and had eyes that were circled with red splotches to go along with a set of teeth that would have made him a shoo-in for a part in the movie Deliverance. He was the classic meth-boy with a side of beer breath. Now back to the action. Meth-boy said, “What you gone do about it grandpa?” and for the first time in the encounter I realized that I was a skinny sixty-something year old, he’s a twenty five year old fool and was probably packing a pistol. I had made the classic blunder of allowing my aging mouth write a check that my old body could not possibly cash.
If I had been able to conjure up a time machine I’d have snatched him and his bad teeth out of that race car and beat him like a tied up goat but alas in present time that was not going to happen. Without saying another word I calmly walked to the back of his car and got his tag number and then told him, “If I see you or this car again on my road again you and your meth-teeth will be in jail faster than you can eat an apple.” That might not have been the best example to give him because it would have taken him a month to actually bite and consume one.
Had he in fact exited the car and started a physical altercation I would have been out there on the road with only a weed-eater to defend myself. Most likely the police blotter report would have read, “Elderly man injured in work-related incident. Broken weed-eater found sticking out of his hind-parts. Law enforcement puzzled about how it got there.”
Luckily he left and I haven’t seen him again. He must have been cowed by my overwhelming force of personality or the fact that I had a weed-whacker as a weapon because I’m pretty sure he wasn’t intimidated by my physical make-up.
Anyway I’m just letting you guys in my age bracket know to be careful about letting your testosterone run amuck and then wind up allowing your mouth write one of those bad checks. If you make a mistake and find yourself in that situation be sure to talk boldly, mention the police, and at the very least have a weed-eater on hand for defensive purposes.
We end today with the Prayer of Generosity by St. Ignatius Loyola:
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek reward, except that of knowing that I do your will.
Beautiful words in trying times.
Stay safe and stay generous.