24 June 2009

**dum vivimus vivamus redux

I must return to subject of Dial soap for a time because Dial soap has become hugely significant and profoundly symbolic.

Remember how I went through all of that sturm und drang back on May 30 when faced with the choice of staying with the old folks at Oleander Acres in Mission, Texas, or heading on into México? The conclusion was that my endeavor to age on my own terms would be better served by heading on into México. That recent grumping about Dial soap, or more properly the lack of it, was an alarming sign that I was back sliding. I shall explain.

Some people chose to pitch their battle against aging in the physical arena. The option of plastic surgery is an extreme example of that. This is on my mind because so many of the Americans here have come here for cheap plastic surgery. The routine is that you come here and have that repulsive face lift surgery for just a couple of bucks. You loaf around San Miguel de Allende for two or three months while you heal up. Then you return home and foist your new self upon old friends and family most of whom lie to you about how marvelous it looks because really it looks like shit.

As a strategy in the war against aging, it simply does not work. What are these people hoping to accomplish? Are they afraid that they will not get laid anymore? I have to think that is part of it. As a result in great part of this fear that they will not get laid anymore, these folks are unable to accept the idea of aging at all. They are so incapable of accepting the concept of aging, in fact, that they are willing to undergo horrendous physical torture.

But who among us wants to have sex with Joan Rivers?

I am conceding the field of battle with aging in the physical arena to the forces of aging. There is no army of plastic surgeons in the world who are capable of making me look like Adonis again. I am eating well and exercising, and I no longer inundate my body with poisons. However, that is as far as it goes. I do not even buy any of those creams or unguents anymore.

I really do not give a damn whether I ever get laid again or not. Getting laid cost me thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and brought me truckloads of pain and heartache. The only good things I got from getting laid were three beautiful daughters and a son who is beautiful in his own way, too.

So we can set all that aside. What I am attempting, as I inarticulately tried to explain on May 30, is to alter how I am aging mentally. I want to age mentally on my own terms.

One of the hallmarks of the typically aging man, based upon my observations, is the gradual loss of mental flexibility. The gradual loss of an ability to stomach change. The gradual loss of any urge whatsoever to try something new. The gradual loss of any ability to let go of the familiar and embrace the unfamiliar. Sometimes this loss is not so gradual. (Do you realize, for example, that for most of us our musical tastes are set in stone by the time we attain age 30, and then it never changes for the rest of our lives?)

This is precisely why bullshit chain restaurants like the Olive Garden thrive in the United States. Mentally old people can visit a new city, go eat in the Olive Garden there, and look at a menu that lists exactly the same crap that they so much enjoy eating at the Olive Garden back in their home city. God forbid that they might try an unfamiliar locally owned restaurant in that new city. Christ!

But this whole thing can manifest itself in seemingly trivial ways, too.

“Good ole Harv. Every morning he went out for his walk at 9:00 precisely. You could set your watch by him. He just didn't feel right if he didn't get that walk in, God rest his soul.”

Would it have been too much to have asked of Harv to try taking a walk at 4:00 in the afternoon once in a while, just to see what it was like? Also, that personality of Harv's is the one that bitches and complains about anything that smacks of newness or unfamiliarity. No need to belabor this anymore because y'all know what I am talking about.

The startling thing is that while we picture Harv in those days as a seventy-five-year-old man, the phenomenon I am talking about gets its grips on men much younger. I know men years younger than I who are in such deep ruts in their lives that they cannot see out over the top edge anymore. They could no more make any significant change in their lives than they could sprout wings, jump off the I.E. Tower in Cedar Rapids, and fly to Iowa City. They might as well be seventy-five years old chronologically because they are already seventy-five years old mentally. They have absolutely no ability to change or adapt anymore. And they do not care. More power to them.

But then . . . but then. . .all of the sudden there I am bitching because I cannot get Dial soap here in México! Just like a crotchety seventy-five-year-old dumb ass. I was upset because something familiar in my daily life was no longer there. That was a disconcerting case of backsliding once I got focused and thought about it. Fuck, I might as well have been bitching because everybody seems to speak Spanish in México.

So here is how we handle that. . . . . .

Dial soap,” you say? What is that? My brand is Escudo soap. It is “antibacterial.” It has “Vitamina E” in it. It has a little caped crusader on the wrapper. Escudo means “shield,” which is cool. It is quite heavily perfumed, but the Mexicans and I like heavily perfumed soap. That's just the way we are down here. We like lots of perfume in all of our personal grooming products here in México, the Mexicans and I do.

There. I feel ten years younger.

I do have this right eyelid that is starting to droop though. It is an hereditary thing as my eye guy, Dr. Mark, explained to me. He is right. Many of my male ancestors staring out of the daguerreotypes with their Civil War uniforms on, have a drooping eyelid. It is worse when I am fatigued. I will probably have to have this one cinched up a little by a plastic surgeon, perhaps down here. But that is all I am going to have done. And that is for legitimate health reasons. It has nothing to do with getting laid. My peripheral vision will eventually be affected, Dr. Mark says.

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By the way all that whimpering and whining about Mexican eating establishments that I was doing recently is also intimately related to what I have written about above. Fuck that. I have pulled some serious pesos from the ATM, and I am going down the street to dine at a legitimate Mexican restaurant this evening--not one of those prissy, faux Mexican restaurants up on the plaza. I will probably stop at a street stand on the way for some appetizers. So if you don't hear from me again. . . .

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**”While we live, let us live.” (So that you don't have to check with your priest again.)


John said...

Based on your analysis I have not aged very much. What a relief! Nevertheless I will start watching for the symptoms.
Hope you had a good dinner.

Barb said...

Ah, I can really relate to this train of thought, Steve. Keep thinking and writing.

Señor Steve said...

You are undoubtedly the youngest guy my age that I know, John.

I got into a real venting session there, didn't I, Barb?