She Walks Out the Door
I am not frail. I go to a gym. I lift weights. I walk pretty fast. I carry in the groceries when my wife, Deborah, comes back from the market. We live in a second-floor apartment, so the grocery carrying is harder than it sounds. I haven't lost my hair.
All that age-denying ego puffery aside, I turned 65 yesterday, a little after 7 p.m.
And my wife gave me some fancy hot sauce, some craft beer, a rechargeable beard trimmer and some socks with Sherlock Holmes' profile woven into the fabric. We went out for Mexican food.
I'm still working, but just a couple of hours a day, and I go to work much later than she does, and I sit on the couch in a robe, and I watch my wife leave for work at about 8:30 a.m. She's 12 years younger than I am, small, blonde, smart, energetic, and fond of makeup and fashion.
"Have a good day," she says as she closes the door behind her.
And I sit on the couch in my pajamas, and I hear the wall clock tick in the next room, and I watch television to catch up on the terrible news from everywhere, and I drink coffee.
My cat Jack jumps up on the couch and rubs his small, chisel-shaped head against my hand, and I pet him, and he purrs. I've got three hours until I dress and leave for work.
"You're a young 64," Deborah said to me sometime last year, and I lived on that compliment for six weeks.
"Hell," I thought. "It's not that bad. She thinks I'm a young 64."
And I'd swagger a little, like some prime-y, roosterish boy.
Women, we're told, fear age. The crows'-feet, the frown lines, the sag and wrinkle. There are entire industries devoted to helping women retain the appearance of youth.
And us? Us men?
We're not supposed to care. We get old. We get wrinkled. We get bald. We get fat. We don't care.
"Guys can always get a younger woman," my wife says.
I do not own a yacht. With my limited resources, I'd be lucky if I could get another cat.
She doesn't talk much about getting older, and, as far as I can see, she hasn't.
Me? I complain about my age all the time, and I watch her walk out the door in the morning, and I watch the terrible news.
You wouldn't have wanted to fight me when I was 35, or even 45, but a high school boy could clean me up in a fistfight now, and I think of manual labor jobs I had in my 20s, and I wonder if I could last the day now.
Why I think about those things, I don't know. I only fought when I couldn't get out of it, and I only had those bullwork jobs when I was in school. I was a reporter and newspaper columnist for nearly 40 years, and neither job requires much tug and haul.
But still, I grew up in working-class communities, and I learned the gospel, which says that a man is his strength and his bravery, that we're built to protect and defend. It doesn't go away when you learn it young.
I have a pension. I have Social Security. I have stocks. I had a good career, and I'm still writing for money.
And I watch her go out the door, small, blonde, smart and beautiful, and I want to chase after her like a dog chases after a tennis ball.
And I pet my cat's gray, chisel-shaped head.
"She'll be back," I say.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.