Today I Became An Old Man

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.

CAM00519

Me, when I was still a young man. It was a happier time…

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.

No street parking anywhere.

No street parking anywhere.

And I mean anywhere.

And I mean anywhere.

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. 

One of a bajillion No Parking signs I encountered...

One of a bajillion No Parking signs I encountered…

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.

I followed the signs in my innocence...

I followed the signs in my innocence…

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.

My last view before everything went wrong.

My last view before everything went wrong.

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.

I won't comment on the poor grammar of this sign.

I won’t comment on the poor grammar of this sign.

The reason for the slow traffic was revealed shortly thereafter.

At least the grammar was less questionable.

At least the grammar was less questionable.

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.

CAM00508

Nothing but red curb…

...after red curb.

…after red curb.

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.

Now with 30% more gray in my beard...

Now with 30% more gray in my beard…

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.

Advertisements

Wannabe Zombie

Zombies are my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. I know there is utter silliness at the core of zombielore but I can’t help it. I just enjoy it so much. I love zombie movies, love zombie fiction – one of my favorite TV shows is “The Walking Dead”, which is set in the zombie apocalypse. And the zombie apocalypse itself is the perfect marriage of two of my favorite genres: tales of the undead, and tales about the end of the world.

The website makemezombie.com transformed my facebook profile pic into a work of ghoulish art.

I grew up on monster movies. Back in the 70’s, Oregon had a local television station that would broadcast old 50’s horror films late on Saturday nights on a program called “Sinister Cinema”, and that is how I was introduced to Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman… all the classics. I would stay up (or try to stay up) and watch these movies, for they fascinated me in ways that I didn’t understand then, and don’t totally understand now.

By the time I was 13, I’d seen all sorts of scary movies, retro and modern, and thought there was nothing I hadn’t seen before. Vampires, aliens, creatures, slashers — they all entertained me. Then one Halloween, I caught an airing of “Night of the Living Dead” on TV, and was forever changed. Good lord, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The dead — coming back to life! Terrorizing the living! Eating their flesh! It was crazy, low budget, black-and-white, and totally, absurdly horrifying. Did they really make a movie that featured a child eating her mother?

Since then, I’ve seen all the sequels, all the tributes, all the knock-offs. I’ve enjoyed the resurgence of zombie stories in the last decade, and when newer stories featured zombies that didn’t stagger along slow and stupid, but could move swiftly and run fast, my interest only increased. I have come to accept that zombie stories satisfy some weird craving I have for macabre entertainment. So when I saw that a local theater group in Orange County was putting on a stage version of the George Romero classic story, I was all in. Read On

Missed Connection

To the driver of the unremarkable white SUV who entered into the intersection of Jamboree and El Camino Real at the Tustin Marketplace this afternoon, who was making a right-hand turn just as I was making a left hand turn, and who entered into my lane just as I was entering it, and who did not seem to see me as he made the turn and who came within inches of colliding with me, to the point where I was bracing myself for impact and a huge auto-body repair bill, and who surprised me by somehow not hitting me after all, and who left me feeling amazedly breathless as I proceeded to get on the 5 freeway onramp thanking my stars that an accident was averted:

I’m sorry. It was my fault. I should not have tried to beat the yellow light. That intersection has a notoriously short yellow, and I should have just stopped. If I hadn’t been rushed, the “near-miss” would never have occurred. That’s why I didn’t lay on my horn, shake my fist or flip you off. I didn’t do anything because I don’t know what the universal sign is for “My bad.”