I’M TWICE AS OLD AS YOU
I provoked old people, especially my mother-in-law. She would say, “They’re wearing their hair high in the 1940s look,” and I would say, “Who’s they?” Or she would say, “I don’t have any shoes to wear tonight to the party,” and I would say, “You going barefoot?”
I shouldn’t have been such a smart aleck.
I hung around Harvey Pekar, who was inspirational, but very bitter. “I’m hateful,” he said. “I’d like to have a cool way to slip my George Ade article to Lark [Pekar’s second ex-wife, an academic]. She’s small-minded. Who wants to dig through Ade’s school grades? So what. I want to do something more creative.”
This was in 1981.
Now I’m twice as old as my son Ted. Exactly twice as old. He’s 31. Pekar was at Teddy’s bris. Pekar considered writing a comic about the mohel raising his hands like a prize fighter and saying, “Golden hands!”
Ted has been a newspaper reporter and taught English in Korea. He has a law degree. He was on Jeopardy. He has worked temporary crap jobs, too. He has done a lot, but he’s still only half my age!
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 31 years:
1. Guard against bitterness
2. Make your job interesting
3. Do something beneficial for others
4. Zekhor (Remember)
5. Get married and have kids
6. “Don’t just view it, do it” (Shari Lewis)
7. Old people are dumb! (joke)
8. Don’t judge people by bumper stickers, neighborhoods, or their tastes in music.
I hope to list 10 items by the end of the decade. (Make it to the end of the decade, then worry about the list, dude.)
When my youngest child, Jack, moved to California last year, I held a mini-shiva; I walked through the music room in the basement and threw out old mic cables, cassette tapes and tons of drumsticks.
Jack took his drums and an electric bass out west. I called him when he was driving through Nebraska, and said, “Did you open the letter I wrote you?”
“Yeah,” he said, “my friends thought it was funny that on the envelope you wrote, ‘Don’t open till Nebraska.’ They thought it contained hallucinogenics.”
I’m anti-drugs! I was dispensing wisdom-in-a-can (in an envelope) to my youngest child. If he could combine my old guy’s experience with his 24-year-old’s enthusiasm and creativity, he would do fine. [Story about the letter is here.]
I filled up four contractors garbage bags in the basement.
I hauled the stuff to the tree lawn on garbage day. An hour later, three bags were gone, but the fourth remained. A junk man had picked up three bags. And I had put some paperwork in those bags, as well as Jack’s garbage.
Mac — the junk guy — pulled up the next week in a pickup truck. He said he liked my trash, particularly the ersatz medieval knight’s helmet from my son’s high school days.
I said, “What about the paperwork?”
He said he had pitched that. Good. I didn’t want my identity stolen that day. He handed me his card.
Age 24 is when you have the least amount of possessions. Now Jack has even less –- four bags less.
And Mac has some good stuff, like the helmet.
Yiddishe Cup is at the College of Wooster (Ohio) 9:30 p.m. Sat. (Nov. 17). More info here.