I was on the front porch when you drove by and I waved – back from withdrawal.
Not to worry.
I have returned from a local medical clinic, where blood was withdrawn per orders of my physician, the competent Dr. A. White, who probably orders that for aging patients on an upward curve for weight gain, skin wrinkles and liver spots.
It’s a sobering moment to watch blood leave your body and collect in glass tubes.
Life is short. The bloom is off this rose. But roses are never tested for insulin levels, cholesterol or triglycerides. According to the tests, I am in a gentle decline, but tests cannot show the new-found resolve that now replaces my love for living-room recliners.
My life is about to be filled with longer walks, more leafy vegetables and increased clear liquid intake. It’s time to put down the remote and confront my inner decay.
I went through some temporary craziness one year while attending college, playing guitar in coffee houses, accompanied by women and beer, following the examples of the day’s musical heroes – Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and so on. I refused to try drugs, but developed a pack-a-day love for menthol cigarettes.
After nightly gigs were over, I held court at 1a.m. in the nearest waffle eatery with plates of carbs and starches stacked in front of me.
There is a picture of me (circa. 1974) playing guitar on stage and I’m not strumming down on the guitar, I’m strumming outward. The guitar rests on my stomach like a fold-out desk. When I saw that photograph, I began to avoid cigarettes, beer and waffles, improved my church attendance, and learned a new word: “salad.”
I turned 60 and became alarmed at my intake of carbs. I’d taken up baking artisan breads as a hobby (elephant hunting seemed too post-Hemingway) and a dread came over me.
I saw myself sitting in a circle of metal folding chairs in a church basement on Thursday nights with other sad, carb-dependent men, discussing how emotionally distant their parents were and it was that lost love, plus everybody-else-in-the-world’s fault, that led them to this place. That image was horrifying.
But I am a lucky fellow. I was blessed in my quality of parents, fortunate to have lived in a family of aunts and uncles who loved me, who encouraged me toward a successful life, and I was going to throw all that away for yeast rolls? No way.
It helps to be content in your life, as I now am. It eliminates a vast amount of longing, lusting, brooding, depression, the misery of rejection and disappointment – all of which encourages late night snacks of powdered doughnuts.
I now focus on morning newspapers, family and church. I’ve become knowledgeable in practical matters – eat just one doughnut, not six. And if the laptop screen goes blank in mid-use for no reason, do not hurl it out the window. Call the Geek Squad. I’m more relaxed now.
The competent and friendly young woman in blue scrubs who inserted the needle in my arm did well in math, biology and Gentle Use of Syringes 101. I know because as she swabbed my arm I asked her and she winked and said, “Sure thing, Sweetie.”
She seemed to like her job. I hope she went home to someone who loves her, as my family loves me. I hope someone cooked her a delightful meal, but out of their love, I hope they went lean on the carbs. Carbs are bad.
Always go lean on the carbs. Always. See you at the gym.
Readers can write to Joe at Joehud@hotmail.com and Facebook. He is the author of “Big Decisions are Best Made with Hot Dogs."