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Greek-American Stories: About Aging

This is a subject I know a lot about, being a participating member. But, it’s something everybody is going to know a lot about, too, eventually. I remember when my friends, all pre-baby boomers, and I used to get together; we’d talk about boys, when’s the next dance, our jobs, and our Neanderthal parents. Now, we get together when we can remember each other and talk about eventful visits to the doctor, the dentist, calorie consumption, dietary fiber, and about all the delicious foods we used to eat that we’re now told are bad for us. How did we get to this age eating bad foods? Now we’re told to eat in Technicolor: eat green, yellow, and red veggies; consume those same ingredients in soups, sides, snacks, and deserts. (Turnip cookies, anyone?)

Once, I danced the cha-cha-cha, spun a hula hoop, and wore out my Union Chicago skates. Now, my slippers have to be skid proof. My bathrobe has to be short so I won’t trip over it. And, my bathroom wall has handles for safety measures. In the old days at work, coffee breaks in the office cafeteria had us tossing a paper plate like a Frisbee for some fun, exchanging jokes, or sitting around and reading about who Burt Reynolds is marrying this time. After all, the Constitution says that we had the inalienable right to be free – carefree. I don’t recall ever being obsessed with material things, except… keep your paws off my bike! My grandson keeps coming to my house and checks out my new Toyota, asking if it’s paid for yet; how many miles have I put on it, and why there is a scratch on the door.

I’m alarmed at the new generation who we expect will be taking over where we goofed… left off. They all look so young! It’s scary to think I’d go to the doctor and find someone with a shaved head, tattoos down the arms, a nose pierce, and the receptionist wearing a bare midriff with a ruby in the naval. When I go to the doctor’s office, I expect to see someone in a white jacket, stethoscope around the neck, looking like Albert Einstein, right? Not someone who looks like a member of The Grateful Dead. Hey! He’s the one I have to trust when holding a long, sharp instrument that’s pointed at me when he asks, “where does it hurt?”

Just imagine voting for representatives in Congress or occupants of the White House who are so young and anxious for some ‘action’ that they send the Green Berets to invade Brooklyn because there was a brawl at the basketball game. Or, proclaim National Darth Vader Day in honor of Science Fiction writers, or vote to replace the outdated, ancient scientists in labs who insist on believing there’s evidence of climate change all because some places in Houston and New Mexico went under water, and Ohio and Kansas experienced 220 tornados. I mean, come on!

Of course, there’s the other side to the logic about having the younger generation take over, like if my family and I board a plane for Greece, this year. I sure wouldn’t want to find the pilot older than me. That could mean seeing the pilot staring out at us from the cockpit, wondering what th’ hell are we all doing there, then, announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your…ahh,” he snaps his fingers. “Pilot! That’s it! And, my name is Capt…..ahh, just give me a minute.” The airline stewardess comes and stands beside him. “Oh, veveos! Capt. Angela Figouris.” The stewardess whispers, hoarsely. “I’m Angela Figouris. You’re Captain Yiorgos Xehasiaris.” He laughs and says, “of course. I’m Captain Yiorgos Xehasiaris. And, in a few minutes we will be 35,000 feet up and going to….ahh…” he turns to the stewardess, again, who announces to the passengers with an assuring smile, “Greece.” You can see that it could be a real problem. Imagine the cockpit door open during flight and we discover the pilot and co-pilot have pushed the ‘automatic pilot’ button while they’re napping as we head for Nairobi. Gee! I can’t go there. I don’t know anyone there, I don’t  think! But, growing old does have its compensations, like…ahh, just give me a minute.

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