Everyone better duck or some flying fragments of some ineffable substance are liable to hit you. Not that I've sunk to the point of throwing stuff, nor are things exploding all around me.....it's just that I am in a very strange mood and am juggling a multitude of disparate thoughts and feelings.....I keep dropping some of the balls and more than a few end up bonking me on the head..........it's OK.......I'm entitled, and it's not like I haven't been here before. It's just that the older you get (and God knows, you can't get a helluva lot older than me) the more complicated some things become. You think life is complicated when you are 44?.........wait till you hit....gasp.....84.
For instance, for most of you birthdays are a cause for celebration, inebriation and gourmandizing........maybe even an Orgy or two. For someone who is ancient, decrepit and, more importantly, half blind it is a time of agony known in these parts as the Department of Motor Vehicles Annual Inquisition and Exquisite TortureTests. At advanced ages they no longer renew your Drivers' License automatically by mail every 4 or 5 years.......you have to start calling for an appointment weeks ahead to be sure you get the process started before your License actually expires (in Calif. on your birthday, by the way). Once you have the appointment you must tear the bookshelves apart to find the old copy of the Driving Rules and begin the worrying, fretting and hand-wringing process.
Then at some point you actually must open the book and begin studying and trying to memorize those stupid rules like how many feet from railroad tracks are you allowed to park and when or if it is ever legitimate to enter the Bike Lane with your car. And with each pass through the book it becomes more and more likely that you will never remember those idiotic facts and figures and will surely flunk the written test. Even though you have gotten 100 on the last 5 or 6 times you have taken it, this time you will surely get the one test that has all the impossible to remember facts and you will FAIL. Oh, shame, oh ignominy, oh shit.
And even if you pass the written test there is still the eye test which, of course you can only pass with one eye, leading to the need to go home clutching a form for your Opthamologist to fill out, stipulating that even though you have one eye that cannot see anything that is straight in front of you, that eye is able to see the periphery of things giving you just a bit of depth perception, while the other eye, God Bless and Keep It, sees everything like a champ and can also leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Staggering away from this department one must next go to the Appointment Desk to make an appointment to take the Dreaded Driving Test ASAP (administered by the most disgustingly adept team of sadists and Obsessive Compulsive Picky-Pickies in both the civilized and uncivilized worlds.)
At this point there is very little left of you as you schlepp the remnants of this once able and admirable person to the Last Straw Department where it says "Camera" ......a euphemism for a machine that is programmed to take the worst possible picture of you....one you must live with (averting your eyes whenever possible) for the next year .....of course all depending on whether you pass the Dreaded Driving test in 10 days.
I'll tell you it is more than a poor wretch like me can bear. And you would think, wouldn't you, that after having driven all sorts of cars under all sorts of conditions for the past 65 or 70 years, that I would have finally gotten the knack of how to drive? But noooooooooo.....you still have to prove it to them, dammit.
So now you should understand why I have mixed feelings about my birthday rolling around and why I rarely celebrate till AFTER the Driving Test.
Now, on the happier side of things, I am tickled pink to report that my Secret Passion, (shared by many of you of the female persuasion) the delectable Mark Harmon, has been voted the most popular person on television, surpassing Oprah Winfrey. believe it or not, and his TV show, "NCIS" was voted the most popular TV series. Ain't that grand? Except that now, the line of besotted fools (like Me) lined up waiting to wash his feet will be so damned long, heaven knows how many more Drivers' Inquisitions I will have to go through before I finally get my turn...........I'll be so old and ugly by then I will have to wear a burka...........sigh.
The New Yorker covers: August 18, 1975
8 hours ago