I Have Outlived My Father
While I cannot find *ANY* confirmation of this on the net, I’m going to go ahead and say anyway that Warren Zevon once said that the hard part of coming up with any song was coming up with the title. After you’ve got that, I’m sure I remember hearing him say, it’s smooth sailing.
His penultimate album was titled “My Ride’s Here”. He hadn’t yet been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, but if he was capable of doing anything, he was capable of coming up with one heck of a title.
My father’s ride showed up the first time in the 70’s. Moles that got sunburned when he was a kid, then again as a teen, then again as a young adult turned into something that the doctors said “you know what, we should remove that”. In the early 80’s, they became a mishmash of medical Latin and a melange of the M section of the practice for your PSAT words. Malignant Melanoma. Morbidity. Metastasis. Mortality.
He lived until he was 39. I’m told that the last birthday party was a big deal. Lots of 39-themed gifts.
On October 5th, 2012, I turn 40.
The various mediations one can have on such an event range from the “well, what will you finally publish?” to “well, what have you learned?” to “well, what did you have hoped to accomplish by the time you turned forty?” to “have you not yet grown sick of your navel?” Of course, all of these essays have been written by others and, yeah, they’ve been written better than I could have written them. I only have a handful of vague and useless observations.
When I was a kid, football (or any sports, really) made no sense at all. Now, I understand that it is (and they are) a fairly important sublimation of war.
When I was a kid, I didn’t understand why grownups preferred to listen to music that was 20 years old to the new and fresh stuff coming out. The moment when I realized that “Summer of 69” was closer to 1969 than “1985” was to 1985 was a real moment of insight.
When I was a kid, newspapers were boring, op-eds were excruciatingly boring, and the talking heads shows on Sunday were equivalent to torture. Now, newspapers are (almost) dead, the op-eds are the only reason to pick one up in the bagel shop, and being one of the talking heads is something that I discuss with my friends online and how this night is not a good night for me and that night is and this other night is out of the question because, sigh, I don’t watch enough television to be willing to pay for cable(!).
When I was a kid, grownups seemed so very Grown Up. I feel like a 20-year old who isn’t very good at faking having gone around the sun so very many times.
And then I find myself writing a sentence like “The main thing I’ve found, however, is time to digest things that I’ve managed to read, hear, or otherwise absorb over the last… golly… forty years” and hoping to find nuggets of wisdom to pass on from folks like Jim Henson or Tolstoy or Jesus or even (especially?) Groucho and imagining these quotes making people smile and maybe blow their nose because of any dust that happens to be in the room… but then only finding one quotation that really sums up everything that one hopes that those out there listen to and, more importantly, adopt and change their lives in order to follow because, really, it’s the only advice that will both be able to be followed in the same amount as it is worth following:
“Enjoy Every Sandwich.” –Warren Zevon