My friend’s father railed against pedal pushers. My grandmother questioned the attire of Elvis Presley but seemed to enjoy his hips. A college dorm mother told me a true lady would never appear in public without hose, and my first principal sent a teacher home when she showed up at work in a pantsuit.
Now that Christmas is tucked away in my memory, where its bustle will fade and beauty improve, I find my only regret is paying little attention to the winter solstice on Dec. 21, the day nature turns.
Last year, during the interlude between Christmas and celebrating a new year, I sat in my living room by a Christmas tree, of diminished interest and numbered days, and watched as rays of afternoon sunlight slowly expanded the asphalt patches on the snow-packed street.
Home for Thanksgiving, I overheard a conversation coming from the kitchen where Mom was making cinnamon rolls and arguing with my youngest brother JL, “I don’t know that having two paper routes is a good idea in the kind of winter weather we have,” she insisted.
I recently heard that children who lick their iPads could develop mercury poisoning. Unable to validate the rumor, I decided to start another, verifiable from personal experience: old ladies in charge of passwords could develop hysteria.
When my birthday rolled around earlier this month, I had a list of things to wish for as I blew out the crowd of candles that topped my cake. Fortunately, oxygen-deprivation didn’t impact my mental acuity, and I remembered the entire list.
I did not glide into adolescence gracefully. Unlike my peers who seemed to frolic into their teens with nary a backward glance, I plodded forward reluctantly, unconvinced that being a rookie in junior high school was better than being royalty in elementary school. My uncertainty intensified as stores filled with costumes and candy, the mountains displayed swaths of color, and Oct. 31 approached.
I identify with philosophers, dreamers and academics who contemplate the mysteries of life, because I, too, ponder the unexplainable.
In junior high, I participated in a skit designed to extol the virtues of good grooming to adolescents. The five cast members each recited a verse written by our class poet and repeatedly chanted the refrain: “If you want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, guys, clean up your act, Jack” — an exhortation indicative of both the quality of our act and its reception.
At my age, if I said I’m surprised by my gravity-altered body, I’d sound no brighter than a collie being amazed by ticks after a romp in the woods. Some things in life are as certain as a stalemate in Congress.