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Having a senior moment l Chuck’s World


Last updated 9/26/2018 at Noon

A football landed at my feet a few weeks ago. I was at a picnic, minding my own business, occasionally watching a couple of young guys toss the ball around, when it missed the mark and headed in my direction. I picked it up.

I hadn’t held a football in a long time, and my fingers automatically found the laces, sliding over them thoughtfully. It was a mix of muscle memory and dim nostalgia from childhood, like picking up a toy soldier.

As I said, I was thoughtful. I held it in my hand, patted it gently for balance, bent my elbow and began to review. Just cock the arm, bringing it forward quickly, releasing the ball from my practiced grip into a tight spiral, quickly arriving in the surprised hands of a 20-something.

I’d be nonchalant about the whole thing, wandering off as if it were no big deal, just a football toss, but everyone would be impressed by the old guy’s arm, you bet.

And then I remembered the last time I threw a softball, which was a dozen years ago. That was the day I tore one of my rotator cuff tendons, and so began an intensive education on the anatomy of the shoulder.

It’s really a remarkable joint. It does an awful lot. You should be grateful for working shoulders.

I tossed the football back underhanded and went off to play with a baby. My football days are over, and my shoulders are just fine with that. Babies are more fun.

I think my throwing days in general are over, actually. The risk-benefit ratio is daunting. And it goes without saying that you should never throw babies, so the whole thing is just a bad idea.

I’ve got a whole collection of bad ideas, a not-to-do list I’ve been assembling for a while now. Aging is not for sissies, but it’s not bad for guys who like to make spreadsheets. These are mostly common-sense things, activities for the older person to avoid.

Some are about sports. A few have to do with clothing. Several involve ladders. You get the idea.

You might argue that I’m taking this way too seriously, that I’ve just recently turned 60 and that’s not very old. You might point out that I appear youthful and energetic. You might suggest that I look much younger than my chronological age.

We should hang out, really.

This may all be true, and I think we should all just say that it is, but this is about taking precautions. And it’s really just about the picture.

I saw it on a website a few weeks ago. It didn’t seem to be viral, so you might have missed it. At first glance, it just looked like another Hollywood photo, people in fancy clothes getting awards for staying alive, that sort of thing. It took me a second.

There were five of them, three men and two women, all of a certain age. There was a lot of silver hair, and quite a few places where hair had obviously decided to boycott the region. There were progressive lenses and lined faces and bulging tuxes.

And I knew their names. Of course.

I’ve known them for 43 years, since my senior year in high school, when I walked into our living room one Saturday night and found my father convulsed with laughter, watching TV.

They were the five remaining original Not Ready For Prime Time Players from the premiere season of “Saturday Night Live,” Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Chevy Chase, and Jane Curtin (John Belushi and Gilda Radner passed away in 1982 and 1989, respectively).

They looked fine, although it’s interesting that the men all seemed a little uncomfortable, while the women appeared to belong up there on the stage. And they should—Ms. Newman has had a long and still active career in voice acting and comedy, and Curtin turned her SNL stint into sitcom gold more than once.

On the other hand, no one quite carries the stench of show biz gone bad like Chevy Chase. A recent magazine profile of Chase painted a sad picture of the 75-year-old actor, sitting at home, waiting for offers.

He’d still like to work; apparently people don’t want anything to do with him, because he’s a jerk. Or he’s been a jerk a lot. I met him once and he seemed a little jerky, but it’s hard to tell.

I don’t care about any of this, not really. I think it’s fine that these people were honored for their contribution to television history. I’m glad some of them are still working.

I wasn’t shocked to be reminded that these former superstars were now well into their seventh decades and beyond. I have some of my own issues with hair.

I was just struck by the differences in the photo. All are around the same age, and look it. They just seem to have traveled different paths to get there, and it showed on their faces.

And Chevy Chase looked in pain, as if trying to grasp something that had long ago slipped away. It made me imagine him, sitting at home, waiting for scripts. It made me think that mortality is inevitable but still comes with choices.

It made me want to tell Chevy to ignore the football, and find a baby to play with instead.

Five minutes with a baby and nothing else matters, trust me, and your shoulders will thank you.


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