Thoughts on the Swing

First Day Retired

So if you gotta work after you’ve retired it’s helpful if you can move your workdays around… like chess pieces. Today was the first full workday I was off as a “retired” person.

That being said I did check some emails and I did think about some “marketing” things I have to do tomorrow. But overall I made the effort to start a new pattern of existence.

I went down to the Newberg Aquatic Center and swam an ugly, oh so ugly, 400 yards… I have not been swimming as much as I should so let’s just be clear… it’s a good thing nobody can see you cry in the water.

I’m meeting new people, and some of them are younger than me. This particular morning I met Bob. It seemed like I held the door for him for an eternity. Do you know that the old man character Tim Conway used to do? He was a sprinter compared to Bob. But, Bob was gracious and very appreciative and I – yes I – was oblivious to the forces I had just unleashed.

I had some trouble with my new ID pass so I was fumbling and fitzing (…FO, if DT can make up new words so can I) …just trying to scan myself into the place while Bob made his way to the locker room… he had plenty of time.

When I got to the locker room Bob seemed to be thinking very deeply about how to get his socks off. Now I’m not trying to make fun of people older than me because I am getting so dangerously close… I have trouble getting my socks on and off… Just ask my grandkids. The facts are, when I entered that locker room Bob looked up at me like I was an inexperienced little grasshopper who needed guidance about the twilight years of our lives. As conversations go, when one person is doing all the talking, he got around to how he played Pro-Football, but before that, he learned the game from the guy who invented American Football. Now let’s be clear, I knew this guy was old but I was pretty sure he wasn’t Walter Camp old and the earliest he could have been playing was in the ’50s or ’60s but, I just nodded my head.

It wasn’t long until I realized I was a fish struggling on a verbal line, trying desperately to find a way out of this conversation, to get to the pool so I could start suffering my own old age. But Bob, he was a master, throwing out questions he would answer himself as I just looked at him, all the while thinking about taking another step closer to that blessed exit. Finally, I cut him off mid-sentence and blurted “Cool, have a nice swim”… and jetted out the door like a geezer with a 20-year-old after-burner. By the time I got into the water, I hardly had enough juice left to tread water.

This is a nice pool with competition lanes and water that is not too warm… it was perfect. But my performance was only “somewhat good”, for almost one lap. After that, it was a frightening display of bubbles and elbows thrashing forward in a search for air. During one of my turns, and I use that term of turns quite loosely because it involved holding onto the side of the pool while my eyes rolled to the back of my head and my chest sent small little tidal waves slapping into the lane lines. That’s when I noticed the young strapping lifeguard with an acne problem casually strolling over to my lane with his whistle in his lips and his rescue tube at the ready.

Having every intent to swim 500 yards I think I made 400 and it took me way more time than I had to spend listening to Bob talk. But on the bright side, I didn’t drown which saved me from the guilt of making the acne lifeguard struggle to decide if I was worth the risk of him giving me mouth to mouth.

So… there was that.

Subsequently, I had a very nice soak in the hot tub and then a good sweat in the sauna. I don’t ever recall thinking about arthritis after about 10 minutes in a sauna. Then, I was on the home stretch taking a shower and then proceeding to the handy dandy swim trunk-O-whirl machine on the wall…

At first, I just saw his hand appear from behind the corner of the entrance as Bob ambled, amba-dambled, amba-badambled-ambled IN. I fumbled and “fitzed” like crazy to get my shorts into that little spin basket but it resisted me like a cat going into a bath (Yes, I’m doubling down on the DT word salad). Next thing you know I looked up and there was Bob. Both of us… “a little bit older and a little bit shorter of breath”. (Pink Floyd didn’t invent football but their lyrics was the ultimate forward pass)

Then Bob eventually said as we awkwardly slunk into each other’s spacetime; somehow the gravity was not quite equal but we both did – “slunk”…

“Do you come here every day?”

I pressed the lid down on the swim trunk-O-whirl machine and began to reply… “Well today is actually…” – WING WING WING ZING ZING ZING – “my first day. I just…” – WING WING WING ZING ZING ZING – “…retired.”

Bob looked at me with a blank stare and pointed to the swim trunk-O-whirl machine.

I lifted the lid and it ground to a screeching metaphoric halt juxtaposed against our semaphoric efforts to communicate; It was a confusing moment for both of us.

I had to repeat the whole thing over again. But instead of congratulating me on my retirement Bob went into a dirge of complaints… Well, he didn’t say them like he was complaining in as much as he was stating as a matter of fact that he is 80 years old and most of his friends are dead. And even though he was a teacher most all of his life he never once heard any of his elders (God rest their Souls) warn of the impending circumstances. And as Bob went on and on and on, it occurred to me the reason he was talking so much was simply that he doesn’t feel like he’s being listened to.

He still has things to teach.

He wants to buffer us younger folks in some way. Somewhere in that conversation, he mentioned this… “Look, I’m not saying everything I have to say is applicable today but a bunch of it is…”

And of course, Bob is right.

So as I move my chess piece workdays around this next year or two I will keep in mind that teaching my protege may require endless, relentless, repeating of phrases and the occasional exaggeration in order to get my point across. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before; that is if they cared enough to keep talking even when we were reluctant to listen.

So thanks Bob, for my first lesson on my first day of retirement. I’m sure I’ll be talking to you again soon.

db 1-6-2020

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