Where have I been, you ask?
Yeah, I know it’s been over a year since my last post. As for the reason I’ve been away… well, you could call it a calculated absence; or you could call it lost in depression; or you could call it self-prescribed recovery time from an ended relationship; or you could call it a mid-life crisis… any of these would probably be correct.
But that’s not what I want to write about today. There may come a time when I write about what’s kept me away, but today I need to write about something else.
Today I became an old man.
It was an invitation to a beach party. An invitation! To a beach party! Who doesn’t love to get invited to parties? An annual event with people I love, I was very excited about it. I was looking forward to going the way a young person looks forward to something fun that young people look forward to (I can’t think of what that would be because, as I mentioned, I’ve become an old man.)
Dressed in my swim trunks and flip flops, I came downstairs and announced, “Kids, we’re going to a beach party today.” I gave them the news with a big smile on my face. I waited for the chorus of yays.
Instead of yays, the only sound was that of the ceiling fan, working overtime in the heat.
“It’s too hot,” came a reply from the couch, my 13-year-old son in lethargic repose.
“I don’t wanna go anywhere,” from the corner recliner, my 10-year-old daughter speaking from behind a book.
This is the way it is with my kids. Anything I think a “normal” child would be into, they avoid with prejudice. Why I continue to be surprised by their behavior is beyond me. I’ve known them awhile, after all.
I tried to keep the excited smile on my face, but after several minutes of “Are you sures” being met with “We’re sure”, it melted like a popsicle on a sidewalk. Sometimes my kids are like the opposite of fun.
I decided I’d leave them home and go by myself. I rationalized to myself, “It’s a party! At the beach! I’m not gonna let my lazy kids keep me from having a good time!”
I got my hat and my shades and my drinks and set out for some fun.
I had a moment where I thought, “I should pee before I go” but ignored that thought. Turns out, that was a mistake.
The party was being held near the Balboa Pier, in Newport Beach. As I drove, I felt a little bummed to be going without my kids, but It was going to be nice to hang out with grownups – I’ve been decompressing from Burning Man this past week, and let’s just say it’s been a rough re-entry. I was glad to be headed for some fellowship.
As I neared my destination, I noticed my need to pee had increased to more significant levels. I also noticed how crowded it was in this part of Orange County. Everywhere I looked, there were cars and people. I saw lots of beautiful people in lots of revealing beachwear, and I tried to focus on that. It worked at first.
I started to wonder if perhaps I left home too late for the party. It started at 3:00, and by the time I reached Balboa, I was beyond fashionably late – it was nearing 4:00. I looked for parking everywhere. I saw none. My bladder was beginning to protest.
I realized I’d have to settle for paying for parking in the lot, so I headed that way. I figured the lot was closer to a bathroom anyway and that sounded just fine to me.
It is worth noting that I was still in a good mood at this point. Yes, the need to pee was a bit of a distraction, but I was still looking forward to seeing friends. I was still relishing the scent of the ocean air. I was still enjoying seeing the beautiful people showing lots of skin. I was still young and vibrant.
As I turned to enter the parking lot, I noticed traffic had slowed to a crawl. I began tapping on the steering wheel with my hands, while my left foot began wiggling in what I suspect was the older person’s version of the child hopping up and down on one leg. I didn’t curse the traffic out loud, but I did mutter an “oh, great” as I crept along.
The reason for the slow traffic was revealed shortly thereafter.
I may have cursed at this point, but not so much out of frustration as panic — I really had to pee! Also, in retrospect I think it was around this time that the “beautiful beach people” just became standard pedestrians that were getting in the way of me finding a space to park.
Slowly I wound my way back to the street in search of parking. Alas, all I saw were miles and miles of cars. Whenever I’d spy what looked like a parking space, I’d inevitably be disappointed. I began to mutter out loud something about the hottest weekend of the year and what a stupid idea it was to go to the beach.
Eventually, after driving a mile down the road and finding nowhere to park, something snapped. The beach and my friends the fellowship were all forgotten. The sunshine suddenly became a symbol of oppression. The citizens lining the streets became stupid sheep that didn’t have the sense to stay home on such a hot day. I saw a young woman in a neon green bikini and thought to myself, “She ought to cover up, she’s going to have skin cancer by the time she’s 30.”
I realized the thought I just had, and I think at that point, I actually developed liver spots. It also occurred to me at that moment that if I were wearing adult diapers, I wouldn’t be in such discomfort.
Horrified at this chain of thought, I finally said, out loud, “That’s it! I’m done!” and stopped searching for a space to park. I sped through the streets in search of a bathroom, and finding a Jack in the Box, pulled in to ease my suffering.
Once relieved, a voice in my head –a hopeful voice, the voice of my youth– spoke up and said “Now we can go find a place to park. Right?”
That voice was drowned out by a new voice. A voice that sounds frighteningly close to that of a grumpy old man. “Oh, no. Screw that,” this voice said. “I’m not goin’ back to that foolishness. No way.”
Young Terry said, hesitantly, “But – but the party! The people! The fellowship! They’re all waiting for you!”
But it fell on the ears of a deaf old man. “Nope. No way. We’re going home.” (Yes I know it’s interesting that it was “we’re” — as though I was speaking to a car full of people. Don’t psychoanalyze me.)
So, because I failed to find a parking space, and because I had an overactive bladder, and because I apparently crossed over into the land of No Fun For Old Men, I went home. No beach party, no fellowship, no seeing friends I had wanted to see. Just me and my grumpiness. And my new liver spots.
I headed home. As I drove, I realized that the “old man” part of me was just hoping there would be kids on my lawn.