My friend Glenn turns 80 today, and I’m sure at the potluck picnic this afternoon he’ll be swamped with cards sporting little old men with pants up under their armpits. Seems 80 is the magic number for geezerhood. But the exact age is arbitrary.
By definition, a geezer is a “queer, old, eccentric person, used especially of elderly men.” Researching further, a curmudgeon is “a crusty ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions, usually an old man.”
I met a female curmudgeon on the deck of the whale tour boat in Victoria earlier this month. I’m sure of it. She huddled in close to the bulkhead, clasping a clear plastic rain bonnet over her perfectly-coifed hair, scowling like a woman headed for the gallows. Or so I imagine a woman heading for the gallows would scowl.
She wore a prim and proper yellow pantsuit, complete with yellow sparkly tennis shoes, and that expression I’ll never forget.
So why was she on the tour, I wondered. She certainly didn’t look like she was enjoying herself— quite the opposite. So why pay nearly $100 dollars for a 3-hour boat ride to go out and look for whales. And when we saw whales—over two dozen of them—she barely gave them any notice, saying her throw-away camera wouldn’t get a good picture of them anyway…
There’s getting old, and then there’s getting old and cranky. But one doesn’t necessitate the other. I’ve personally determined that I’ll be one of those old, irritatingly cheerful people, always smiling and laughing, talking with strangers and enjoying life.
So I practiced right there on the boat. “Wow!” I said enthusiastically, pointing to her feet, “Where’d you get those terrific shoes? They match your outfit perfectly!”
She leaned forward so I could hear her, a big grin on her face for the first time all day. “I know!” she gushed. “I got them at the Goodwill. Aren’t they great? They were only $5!”
“Really? You got quite a bargain!” I exclaimed.
She nodded, then pulled herself back into her corner behind the pilothouse and returned to her scowling countenance, firmly pulling the rain bonnet around her face with both hands. It was a beautiful 75-degree day on the water.
I think of her often, and am glad our paths crossed. She’s a fine example of what I don’t have to grow up to be. We’re here on the planet to have fun, and I intend to enjoy every minute, at any age!