In the opening scene of the old movie, Hopscotch, Walter Matthau, with his droopy, basset hound mug, looks around an outdoor cafe and strides over to an attractive woman (Glenda Jackson) who is sitting alone at a table. She shows no sign of recognition, but nevertheless, he bends down and kisses her lustily.
When he steps back, she asks in her dramatic British voice, “Where have you bee-e-n, you Old Goat?!”
I use that line often (with or without the kiss) on Dearly Beloved and have been advised that some of my blog friends are starting to wonder the same thing about me.
During my own “aging spurt” this summer, the extended service contract on my laptop, Granny Smith, expired. Within weeks, Granny had an aging spurt of her own. I would turn her on, only to hear three warning foghorn-like blasts. I’d quickly turn it off and try again. She’d eventually start, but a grey shade would fall over the screen and a black box would appear with an ominous warning. In few words and about a dozen languages, it advised me to shut down my computer immediately.
I left her with the Genius Bar folks for several days and was less than satisfied when she was returned to me. The fog horn still blew sometimes, the scary black box still appeared, but now Granny had developed a new tic: she would drop the first letter of every word. For instance, when I could finally manage to get her started, she’d demand the assword for ary ee.
I have bellied up to the Genius Bar several times since then. The last time she went in for an overnight stay, they either inserted two new sticks of RAM or rammed in two new sticks of something else. I can’t remember what they said. Perhaps it was B-12. At any rate, she’s still ornery, but working better, so here I am.
I’d better write fast.
Miss Piggy, too, is feeling her 16 years. She can hear only the loudest sounds now and cataracts have clouded her brown eyes. We have always thought of her as…um… not smart, but are rethinking our opinion.
She doesn’t beg to go out, we have to beg her. We stand in front of her dangling her leash and gesturing wildly. Eventually she relents and agrees to accompany us. Once she’s on the sidewalk, she enjoys it, sniffing the leaves and grass, ever hopeful that someone has dropped a crumb or crust.
We try to get her to go outside frequently to prevent the leaks that sometimes appear on the rug. Arrgh! She won’t squat in wet grass for me unless I stand in it with her, as if she is demanding that I realize what I’m asking her to do. DB is cleverer; he simply gives her a treat whenever she produces. That dog can duckwalk in a full squat the full width of the front yard, trying to convince him that she’s Beggin’ Strip-worthy.
She refuses the chewable tablets for her leaks and her joints unless we encase them in Pill Pockets, along with a pain pill for her arthritis. She ignores her dry food unless we serve a sauce, like warm beef broth. The liquid from a can of tuna is her absolute favorite.
Dramatic as ever, she wanders the house at night, wailing and moaning loudly as she looks for places to hide her chew bones from unseen thieves. She snores. She smells.
She melts our hearts.
Dearly Beloved and I have thought this autumn to be especially beautiful. We smell the roses, crunch the leaves, and enjoy morning coffee in front of the fire instead of obsessing that the house needs painting, the bathroom needs updating, and the shrubbery is reaching for the power lines.
We love mornings, but bedtime is pretty darned nice these days. After years of lecturing to me that the bed was for only two things, neither of which was reading, DB now goes to bed early because it has become his favorite place to read.
I try not to be smug.
Carpe diem? Of course!
It’s just that now, we also carpe naps.