More than a few years back on a foreign talk show prying into some of my global misadventures that might have proven only a tad less disastrous than ISIS, I was suddenly and incongruously asked, if I had any regrets.
I actually had to pause. And think a moment. Because I never thought about regrets. Regretting my regrets? And where did this question bizarrely come from? I mean we had been talking about living… and not just once in a while. But then I started laughing. Because I’ve always recognized that if you lose the power to laugh you lose the power to think.
“Yep, I have a regret,” I said with a chuckle. “I regret that I haven’t done more mischief.”
A smile slipped to the corners of my female interviewer’s puzzled lips. “I have no idea what to ask next,” she said. “What other kind of mischief could you possibly seek?”
You know, it is so simple to sound wise. Just think of something stupid you usually say and say the opposite. In other words: Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense. Like that interviewer inquiring if I had any regrets. I should have bitch-slapped her busty pulchritude halfway across the Seine.
She obviously had an agenda to categorize what she considered success and failure. And hells-bells, I’m just a good ol’ boy enjoying my life of train wrecks – even if they do sort of resemble an abandoned steel mill town.
But instead of angrily spewing the best speech I would ever regret, I burped another chuckle and offered: “Failure is when you have regrets, darling. So I’ve never really failed. Failure is when you give up trying. And I may have run out of time many a time, but I never gave up. I just keep dodging the silver bullet. Life is a trip. And I never wanna miss my next flight.”
And then I recalled to her what my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy preached to me even when he wasn’t sober:
“Always fight. Never let the bastards grind you down. The effort is likely to be futile. You’re body may even end up in the dead letter office. And, of course, your best friend will console your wife in bed. But that stuff happens anyway. What doesn’t happen is not enough folks are willing to give it their all. Never be afraid of regrets.”
Hmm… Maybe I didn’t remember that quite right.
Anyway. for some reason this little episode on the timeline of my life came tumbling back on me the other day while I was searching for the boy in the new picture on my renewed driver’s license. You know, the boy who was always hopping the next train bound for glory. And usually got off a stop too soon.
But the guy in the picture had all this grey in his hair. And crow’s feet around his eyes. And an extra dab of skin gobbling on his neck. And I found myself screaming out across the shiny tiled floor in the crowded motor vehicle building:
“Who is this old fart? How did I suddenly get so faded!”
Of course, some bored, impertinent clerk offered, between her pudgy cheeks: ‘Well it beats the alternative.’
“Hell no. it don’t, you twit,” I snorted. “Spare me the bloody platitudes. Besides, how would you know? The dead been sending you postcards? I don’t wanna get old! Old age ain’t for sissies.”
Soooo… how do I get outta this ‘old’ place? How do I get paroled from slowly dying?
Indeed, one of the big fears of aging simply comes down to vanity. Not to mention sex. And I don’t wanna die in pieces. Or trying too hard to ‘get some.’ Trading for those magical blue pills with other old guys for a shot and a beer.
What duh hell, what duh hell, what duh heck! I still got planes to catch. Stories to write. Places to parachute into. And bedrooms to sneak out of. I ain’t gonna die in a war. I’m gonna get killed by someone’s lack of humor.
And then!.. And then… putting a torch to more of my graying pubic hairs… to exacerbate matters even worse, a couple days later — in fact just the other day — came another bloody reminder that I am getting a step slower and a dollar shorter.
It caught me by surprise, actually. I had long given up on remembering these annual renewals to my actuarial death-march. But those clerks at my bank all started warbling “Happy Birthday’ when their computer espied me taking out too much money to pay for some of those past misadventures.
Hey, but no regrets. We’re all still friends… as long as I keep the checks coming.
Obviously I am having a time of it for some reason. From a life of no regrets to leaping into the abyss of age. I mean I am cannon balling into the 60s. And I wanna be 25 again. But apparently Homeland Security won’t let me… among other things.
I know… I know… I shouldn’t be afraid of growing older. People tell me I’ll still do stupid things… only slower. And I am forever receiving those cute Hallmark smiley-crap reminders. Like: The more birthdays you have, the longer you live.
Aww… go fook yourself… You don’t live when your dick dies. You just smile a lot to cover up the tears as you stare vacantly across the park at all those young beauties who end up parading naked across your FaceBook torture.
Obviously there is no cure for the common birthday. And I find it curious that if you check the Bible there are no birthdays. Perhaps time changes in the New Testament with the birth of Hey-zeus. But for us Jews, and the Muslims and the Fundamentalists and the Buddhists, the time just goes on… and on… and on… And then you die. So you can live again with your over circumcision.
To me, old age was always 10 years older than I am. But some bizarre combination of circumstances, along with the annual calendar benchmark causes you to sit back on your barstool, reevaluate and try to relax. Like the weather, there ain’t a whole lot you can do about it.
So perhaps I should take my own advice and live everyday like it’s my birthday. After all, the optimist thinks this is the best of all worlds. Unfortunately, the pessimist fears that is true.
And just as I was thinking optimistically, and putting a little joie de vivre back in my step down Philadelphia’s trendy Walnut Street, along came an old-old girlfriend who I barely recognized. Brilliantly lit from stem to stern, she looked like a sagging birthday cake.
Indeed… Failure is when you have regrets.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…