Free clip art showing an ancient Egyptian jackal/human. You’ll soon learn why this is relevant.
“Hey, I almost spit on that old lady.”
The old lady is me. The speaker: a chubby, ruddy-cheeked lad who appears to be in his mid-twenties. He and his two companions ride down the library elevator with me. None of them hold a book. They don’t seem the avid reader types. The loud one had makes a smart crack about my library basket. A large sturdy basket holds my library books both at home and in the library as I peruse those wonderful shelves in search of what interests me in the moment.
Mr. Funny Guy says, “I have a basket like that. Every time I go to Jellystone Park, the bears won’t leave me and my pick-a-nick basket alone. ”
I smile politely but secretly find him annoying. Following the little “pod” out of the library doors, I overhear a conversation punctuated by expletives. I cringe inside hearing the f-word frequently used. I decide that these three are not class acts.
The little group stops abruptly in front of me. Mr. Funny Guy prepares to expectorate (spit) and stops abruptly to avoid spitting on my shoes. As I hurry out of harms way, he says, “I’m sorry,” just before he makes spittle fly.
To which I reply, “That’s OK.”
Public expectoration is one of my pet peeves. I find it especially distasteful. Mr. Funny Guy is not scoring any points with me today but I smile and focus on putting as much distance between me and this group as possible. This small and seemingly classless cluster tower over me. Their combined weight probably nears 600 lbs. Their size is intimidating. Basic survival instinct kicks in after all those years of fending for myself in the city. I simply want to disappear in the landscape and no longer appear on their radar. They are jackals and I feel like prey.
Then, just as I begin to put some distance between us I hear Mr. Funny Guy say, “I almost spit on that old lady.”
This statement is followed by a forced and throaty guffaw. The sting of being called old so outweighs the title of lady. Despite the threat felt from this band of jackals, I fight the urge to whirl around and shout,
“Hey! Who are you calling old? You. . . You. . .You. . . Idiot!!!”
Obviously, I possess a vanity that has remained hidden from my view but here it comes roaring out of me because some punk calls me old.
Fortunately, I curb the urge to address my name-calling foe. I start ranting at him in my head.
“Hey! What are you? 23, 25?? I’m only over twice your age.”
I realize this isn’t helpful in proving my youthfulness and try another line of thought.
“Hey!! Just yesterday I was watching Yogi and Boo Boo, the original.”
I realize this isn’t going to help either.
Finally, I start to look for the source of this perceived slight within myself.
“Hey! Why do you call me old? Is it my gray hair (Should I think about coloring it?) Is it my wrinkles? My matronly figure? My well-used hands that have begun to bear age spots?”
I’m starting to feel old.
“Just wait,” I think as I address the lead jackal in my mind.
“You are young now but before you know it some schmuck just like you are now will call you ‘Old Man’. You’ll be shocked, just like I am. You’ll be amazed at where the years went and how quickly. Inside your mind you’ll still believe that you are young. Your body will age but it won’t really sink in. Your spirit will still be young. It will peer out at the world from tired, watery eyes and see a young world and still feel a part of it. Your spirit will be amazed that others perceive you as old. More surprising still, you will begin to be banned from all things young by the barriers of age and time, things over which you have no control. Time is a jealous mistress, my jackal friend. Just you wait, Funny Guy.”
This latest inner diatribe soothes me. Some times the truth does that. A smile brightens my wrinkled face. Let these puny jackal-humans try to escape it. Some day some one will call them, ‘Old’. They will wonder where the time went. And, I, long dead will look down from heaven and laugh loud enough for them to hear me.