Opinion » The Rant

Mirrors: Old Age is Looking Back at You



This nation has gone completely insane and everybody's armed. I just wanted to point that out before I got to the main subject of this commentary: having birthdays. Lots of them.

The topic has been on my mind, since I'm about to round that circle once again, and when enough birthdays pile up, you start doing the calculus. It's not age that bothers me, it's the aging process. In my mind's eye, I'm still 35, but my mirrored reflection betrays that fantasy. I'm way far from decrepit and am generally in decent shape for a man whose daily walk is from the bedroom to the den. Of course, the doctor tells me to walk around the block, but, baby, it's cold outside. My wife will attest that I'm still very boyish and sometimes downright goofy. Here's a dark confession: I still make funny faces at myself in the mirror. Which brings me to expound upon my concerns in the only creative way I know how — in a song.


Did I tell y'all that I was a songwriter? I thought so. If not, check out "Old Dog, New Tricks," by Rufus Thomas on YouTube.

See, this journalism business is just my side-hustle. For many years, I attempted songwriting as a profession, but after nine years in Nashville, I burned out. In addition, since there is no more music business, I've been receiving royalty checks for 35 cents, or a buck and a quarter, every six months. Why even waste the stamp? However, after I quit writing songs, I found it was a hard habit to break, so I still write them — I just don't have anywhere to send them. But then, I realized that if I wrote out my song in the Memphis Flyer, it would be published automatically. The law states that a song is copyrighted as soon as the pencil leaves the paper, or in this case, the keystroke hits the screen, so don't be messing with my latest hit. I call it "Mirrors."

You're the one who got elected/ But not the one selected.

The word "orange" has no rhyme/ But that's the color you'll be wearing when you're doing time. 

I'm sorry, that's from a different song I've been working on. If you'll indulge me:


I think my mirror's lying to me/ Where is that boy I used to be?

My beard is now all specked with grey/ And my hair has mostly gone away.

I just don't look the way I should/ But then, my eyesight's not that good.

I just can't seem to get used to myself/ I think I must be someone else.

The image in my mind is from 1993.

I think my mirror's lying to me.

I don't stare anymore/ but just by chance

I can't help but catch a passing glance.

But what I see just isn't me/ Where is that boy I used to be?

So I'm taking down the mirrors/ And here's the reason why.

I just can't stand to see a grown man cry.

I'm thinking of a Salsa or Samba beat, but it's still a work in progress. I promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those old codgers who sit around and complain about what ails them, yet here I am. I've accepted my circumstances, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

My first sign that I needed to take cautionary action was when I nearly slipped in the shower. I caught myself before falling through the curtain, hitting my head on the sink, and Elvising out on the bathroom rug. Melody is the mechanically inclined person in this household, so the next thing I knew, she was assembling one of those orthopedic chairs, all rubber and plastic, like the kind they use in hospitals. I balked at first out of reflexive vanity. Surely, a chair in the shower is a sign of surrender. But after I tried it, I wondered why it's not standard equipment in all showers. It's like sitting under a tropical waterfall and makes you want to linger. And you don't have to bob and weave around a shower head like some slick prizefighter. The chair helped me come to terms with my limitations.

Although longevity is on my side, I still can't help but be concerned. I inherited the longevity gene from my mother, but I also inherited my grandmother's neurosis. If there's a genetic predisposition, I'm on course to live a long life — miserably. Now, get the hell off of my lawn.

Randy Haspel writes the "Recycled Hippies" blog.

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