Friday, May 09, 2014

*** On The Aches And Pains Of Aging -With The North Quincy Class Of 1964, And All Other AARP-Worthy Brethren In Mind

A YouTube film clip of Dylan Thomas reading his famous poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

"Do not go gentle..

...into that good night." First line of Dylan Thomas' poem of the same name.


Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Al Johnson here. Now some of you know, know full well, that back in North Quincy days I could, well, you know “stretch” the truth. Stretch it pretty far when I was in a fix, or one of my corner boys like my right-hand man Bill Cadger up at our old "up the Downs" haunt, Balducci’s Pizza Parlor or Doc’s Drugstore down Billings Road , needed some outlandish excuse to get right. And fellow women classmates and some other women non-classmates as well know I would outright lie, lie like the devil in church or out, to get, well, “close” to you. Hope you forgive me about the lying, not about the trying to get close to you part. But that is all water of over the dam or under the bridge, take your choice. Today I am a new man, a truth-teller, or trying to be, except of course when I am practicing my profession as a lawyer. Then the truth might just be as elusive as it was when I was making up excuses for my corner boys or, if you were a woman, trying to “feel” you up. But enough of that as I am not here to speak of my repentance or about me at all, as hard as that might be to believe, but of the hard fact of age, yah, that creeping up thing that just kind of snuck up on us. So I am here to say just one thing- “won’t you take my word from me” like the old blues singer, Rabbit Brown, used to sing when he had the miseries. Listen up.

I am, once again, on my high horse today like I used to be when I had the bee in my bonnet on some subject in the old days. I have heard enough, in fact more than enough, whining from fellow AARP-worthies that I have been in contact with lately and others of my contemporaries from the "Generation of '68” about the aches and pains of becoming “ a certain age.” If I hear one more story about a knee, hip, heart, or, maybe, brain replacement or other transformative surgery I will go screaming into that good night. The same goes for descriptions of the CVS-worthy litany of the contents of an average graying medicine cabinet. Or the high cost of meds.

If I am not mistaken, and from what that old gossipy Cadger has told me, many of you fully imbibed in all the excesses of our generation from crazed-out drug overkill to wacky sexual exploits that need not be mentioned in detail here (although I would not mind hearing of a few exploits strictly in confidence, attorney-client type confidence, of course), and everything else in between. Admit it. So come on now, after a lifetime of booze, dope, and wild times what did you expect? For those of us who have not lived right, lo these many years, the chickens have come home to roost. But I have a cure. Make that THE cure.

No I am not, at this late date, selling the virtues of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or any of a thousand and one religious cures we are daily bombarded with. You knew, or at least I hope you knew, I wasn't going to go that route. That question, in any case, is each individual's prerogative and I have no need to interfere there. Nor am I going to go on and on about the wonders of liposuction, botox, chin lifts, buttocks tuckers, stomach flatteners and the like. Damn, have we come to that? And I certainly do not want to inflame the air with talk of existentialism or some other secular philosophies that tell you to accept your fate with your head down. You knew that, as well. No, I am here to give the "glad tidings," unadorned. Simply put- two words-graham crackers. No, do not reach for the reading glasses, your eyes do not deceive you- graham crackers is what I said.

Hear me out on this. I am no "snake oil" salesman, nor do I have stock in Nabisco (moreover their products are not "true" graham). So, please do not start jabbering to me about how faddish that diet was- in about 1830. I know that it has been around a while. And please do not start carping about how wasn't this healthful substance "magic elixir," or some such, that Ralph Waldo Emerson and his transcendentalist protégés praised to high heaven back in Brook Farm days. Well, I frankly admit, as with any such movement, some of those guys went over the top, especially that wacky Bronson Alcott. Irresponsible zealots are always with us. Please, please do not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Doctor Graham simply insisted that what our dietary intake consisted of was important and that a generous amount of graham flour in the system was good for us. Moreover, in order to avoid some of the mistakes of the earlier movement, in the age of the Internet we can now Google to find an almost infinite variety of uses and helpful recipes. Admit it, right now your head is swirling thinking about how nice it would be to have a few crackers and a nice cold glass of milk (fat-free or 1%, of course). Admit also you loved those graham crumb-crusted pies your grandmother used to make. The old chocolate pudding-filled ones were my favorite. Lime was a close second. Enough said.

Here is the closer, as they say. If people have been mistaking you for your father's brother or mother's sister lately then this is your salvation. So scurry down to your local Whole Foods or other natural food store and begin to fight your way back to health. Let me finish with this personal testimonial. I used to regularly be compared in appearance to George Bush, Sr. Now I am being asked whether Brad Pitts is my twin brother. Or is it Robert Redford? .....Oh well, that too is part of the aging process. Like I say-“won’t you take my word from me.” Get to it.


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