Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Old Guys Rule…

November 25, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) It was unfortunate all around: Unfortunate that it happened and unfortunate in the WAY it happened. But it had to happen.

And what happened was, the other evening when Roy and I left the Los Angeles County Museum of Art after an evening of live jazz there, in the parking structure we found a 20-something young man holding court with a girl and a guy, using as his orator’s throne the trunk of Roy’s beloved black 1971 Buick Electra 225.

Roy, known to lose it over a friendly debate regarding just how many collies were used in the old Lassie TV series, was surprisingly genteel in asking him to move. However, the young man, feeling either his oats or the result of an illicit narcotic, not only took his own sweet time in removing himself, but he mumbled something or another decidedly sarcastic and out of line.

Graciously, Roy ignored it. He, like myself, believes, in the words of a certain mushy Whitney Houston tune, that the children are our future. In this impromptu summit of generations and minds, Roy must have glimpsed an opportunity to contribute something–say, a lesson about respect for the property of others–to a young citizen of the world.

The young man didn’t appear to possess such a vision. What he probably saw was Roy’s height–5’7 tops, to the kid’s six feet-plus–and Roy’s severe widow’s peak of gray. As we approached the car, the young man might have even caught the slight limp in Roy’s stride that occurs when his bad knee from an old motorcycle mishap flares up.

Mostly, though, when the young man looked at us, he most likely saw what I myself might have seen at his age: He saw two “old” guys.

George Bernard Shaw got it right with that sagacious line, “Youth is wasted on the young.” In your early twenties, you think you know how to communicate, think you wrote the book on sex and think you know what the future holds. What you don’t know is that you basically don’t know shit.

Moreover, when you’re in your twenties, you think anyone over forty–thirty, even–is old. Only after your twenties do you even begin to realize just how mistaken you were about things.

It’s like the 1957 Sci-fi classic, “Invasion of The Body Snatchers,” where suspecting earthlings fight like hell to stay awake to avoid becoming Pod People. Eventually they do nod off and awaken, emotionless and zombielike, insisting to those resistant that being a Pod Person isn’t so bad.

In real life, waking up anywhere on the other side of thirty can mark the beginning of a wonderful journey of continued personal discovery and growth. After all, life is the ultimate university, and it’s cheap–the only tuition to be paid is attention.

Of course, sheer time on the planet–age alone–doesn’t guarantee clarity of life. Thus, the gem in the crown of this existence is experience and a willingness to learn from it. That is when youthful agility is replaced by experience-tempered technique; when compulsion is contrasted by contemplation, when impertinence is countered by a respect for self and others.

There are plenty young adults who know parts of what I’ve said. I’m not sure what part of it this young man knew, but in a gesture that seemed of goodwill and apology, he extended his hand to Roy. I witnessed that much.

However, in the next second, the young man was lying on the cement. You won’t read exactly what happened here, because I didn’t see it. In the moment that I glanced over my shoulder, distracted by a car leaving the parking garage, I missed it.

But Roy didn’t. Lacking the young man’s arm reach and youthful energy, he relied on instincts and experience. He’d later say the youngster’s eyes betrayed his true intentions.

Eyes that couldn’t see that to step to Roy, a peace-loving guy one year shy of his fifty-eighth birthday, was to go up against a man with a black belt in Life. To “go there” with Roy was to venture to ‘Nam and Woodstock, both places where Roy says he saw people die. Roy has done some living, seen some things. Slight to the naked eye, he is, no offense to his prized Buick, built like Chevy claims to build trucks.

And so, before the young man could swing with his other hand, Roy rang the school bell.

But this ass whupping was meted out with love. Compassion. As I said, Roy sincerely believes that children are our future. Because of Roy, in that future, perhaps this young man will open his eyes to more than an incoming fist.

However, at that moment, the young man’s eyes weren’t open at all. As his friends dutifully sought to revive him, we slowly rolled out of the parking structure in the shiny Duce and Quarter.

I felt bad for the guy. Regardless, as Roy, over the hi-fidelity pleas of Buddy Guy, calmly inquired, “Wha’choo feel like eatin,'” I couldn’t help but think that somewhere in the naive recesses of the young man’s now foggy consciousness, rang three prolific words: Old. Guys. Rule.

Written By Steven Ivory

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