When I was young my grandparents did many strange things. But they were much older than me. Their minds lived in a mysterious old place, packed with esoteric wisdom gathered from decades of experience.
To be old was a mystery that I could not question. I would see them engage in unusual behavior and conclude, “They must know things that I cannot know, because I am so young.”
I remember asking my grandfather why he put his pants on backward. He looked down, then sputtered a bit as if at a loss for words. He began by explaining all the things arthritis does to you, and tried to convince me that wearing backward pants was therapeutic to the hip joints. But when he noticed my creased forehead he gave up and blurted, “Wait’ll you get to my age, then you’ll understand!”
That was all he needed to say. I was convinced he wore his pants that way for a very good reason that one day, many many years down the road, would become clear to me.
And now, here I am, many many years down that road. I now live in the mysterious old place my grandparents once occupied. And I notice how often young people defer to me. They seem to regard me as an oracle of occult knowledge. A possessor of gnosis and ancient arcana. A black box aerated by wafting unseeable winds of wisdom.
And I have come to the same ageless realization that I’m sure my forebears came to. And that is, my grandparents were full of bullshit. And more importantly, I realized that my youth made me blind to the ignorance of my elders.
“Wait‘ll you get to my age,” is a magic bullet explanation that has stood the test of time for countless generations.
Are your grandkids harassing you because you voted for Donald Trump? Just wink at them, give them a wise look, and say something like, “You know, when you’re my age you’ve learned some things that just can’t be explained to young folks like you. But you’ll understand one day, and be glad I voted for him.”
Maybe some youngsters in your family are getting on your case for gambling away your pension at the casino. It won’t work to tell them that you want to win a big pile of money so that just once in your life you can act like a bigshot and do lots of bigshot things before you up and croak. They’ll just tell you that you’re old and going to die soon, and you don’t need anything more than that pension check to carry you creaking along until it’s time for that final ride in the coffin.
Instead you have to play the mystery card. You have to give them a whiff of your black box. Your bullshit box. So just say something like, “I’ve been going to casinos all my life. I don’t make the kind of gambling mistakes that young people make. At my age I’ve learned the right way to gamble. Just wait and see. I’m going to win a big jackpot one day, and you’ll inherit it.”
That should suffice. Young folks are in constant awe of our mysterious old place. We can parlay it into excuses for all kinds of outrageous and foolish behavior. But we do have to be careful. We do have our kryptonite. We have one weakness that can get us into a world of trouble.
And that is when young people suspect us of being senile. Be on the alert when they ask you questions like, “Hi Grandpa, do you remember me?” Or, “Grandpa, what year is it?” Or, “Grandpa, why do you wear velcro shoes?”
They’re trying to gauge your memory skills. So carry crib notes on you at all times. Learn how to fake it. There might even be a book for sale on Amazon on how to cover up dementia. Hell, if there isn’t, write one. If you can remember how to write.
The last thing you need is to be dragged away from the comfort of your own house, to spend the rest of your life in some pissy, stinky nursing home. There’s too many old people at those places, and you might even have to share a room with one of them.
Never forget: It’s far better to live in the mysterious old place, than the crappy old place. So be wise, and keep the mystery alive!