Mirror on My Bathroom WallSeptember 25, 2011
If you happen to ask my age I’ll say I’m forty-one with forty years experience. That makes people laugh. But more and more the protesting yelp of age echoes around my body, making it difficult to continue denying the norm. Never before have I been called upon to live within such unreasonable dictates of nature.
One of my early dreams was to be a great movie star like Errol Flynn because he was handsome and made a lot of money. All of the requirements to that end were within me, save looks and talent, which is a failing I still am fraught to overcome. I felt better after my mom told me that being broke was sanitary.
I categorically deny some of the things I’ve done, and my greatest regrets are the chances I didn’t take. It would be so nice to revisit the 1940s when I was in the blossom of my youth. Many of the things I did are still vivid in my mind. One was watching my favorite rival make a big mistake while playing marbles. I so enjoyed not interrupting him. But the best one was asking my seventh grade teacher the difference between two miles square and two square miles. She didn’t know and I did. That was a good one. Then somewhere along the way I learned that no revenge is as rewarding as forgiveness, which is a special kind of winning, if you can think like I do.
When I reached middle age I forgave myself for not having been nominated best actor and started writing prose, which resulted in the creation of a few books. But in my sixties that got tiresome and my life needed some different mental textures to continue its existence. So I decided to become a poet. That was a regrettable decision because I started by beginning each line with a capital letter and then continued writing prose. It made me more versatile but less productive. My world was stagnant while a myriad of new electrical technologies exploded all around me.
So a friend gave me a computer. But it didn’t make the clicking noises when I typed the way my old Underwood typewriter did. That’s one of the things I miss, in a stubborn sort of way. Maybe the typewriter’s steady pecking cadence gave me a sense of accomplishment that’s now missing in my life.
Anyway, with computers being so highly cryptic today sometimes I think there’s a diabolical little genie in my laptop who suddenly, and without my permission, jerks my misspelled words into correction. And that’s not all. The thought occurred to me that I may soon become an obsolete entity in my whole story writing process, and that bothers me a lot. I know my friends are talking about it. They whisper that I’m overly fretful about things I can’t control, and that I may be heading over the edge a little. Maybe, but there are some adversaries to which I shall never yield. Age is one of them. Time is another. There are a few things that should have been done better along the way so I want to go back and try again.
But there may be a clash with my most stubborn adversary - the image in my bathroom mirror. Our mutual irritation is constant and we’ve started quarreling more. It looks back at me with an awkward desperation that’s new in recent years. We don’t seem to like each other anymore… so I think we need to talk.
Mirror, don’t you stare at me so fast,
A view that no one can adore.
You know that sight ignores my past,
Confirming something I abhor.
Why do you always look so weird?
How did you hurt your hair?
Would you suggest I grow a beard?
Or don’t you even care?
Please make my age do what I want,
And change my looks to twenty-three.
If you won’t do the things I can’t
You’ll never be a friend to me.
You might present me in my teens
And not be smug with what you see.
I’d pay the cost within my means;
A friend would do it just for free.
You’re nobody without me here,
Your stare is blank when I’m away.
So it’s my age that you should fear,
You know I hate it being gray.
Let’s see if we can improvise,
Forget the things I said before.
Maybe we can compromise,
If you’ll just make me forty-four.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1970, I built an art gallery in Santa Fe that my wife and I ran for seventeen years. Since then, my energies have been directed toward excavation of a large Indian pueblo and writing books about art and exploration. I hope you enjoy my blog!