"Home. Home is where I'll be.
Pick me up and turn me 'round.
I feel young. Born with a weak heart.
I guess I must be having fun.
The less we say about the better.
Make it up as we go along.
Feet on the ground, head in the sky,
It's ok. I know nothing's wrong.
"This Must Be The Place ( Native Melody)"-Talking Heads
I turned 50 earlier this week. I have to admit that it wasn't nearly as bad as I was prepared to endure. I got the usual and predictable cards and e-mails calling attention to my infirmity and impending senility. Folks have been taking me out to eat. According to my calendar, I won't have to buy lunch or dinner for the next week or so. That's pretty cool. My brothers and I played golf together last Sunday up at Mountain Ranch. That's me up in the right hand corner! These things are subjective and reasonable minds can differ on such matters but I don't think that I look too bad for an old coot.
Steve Martin said he was depressed upon turning 50 because it meant that his life as a productive artist was pretty much over. Which may bode ill for the soon-to-be released movie Shopgirl. Anyway, I guess I didn't brood over this consideration overly much, being neither productive nor an artist. Besides, when I got to thinking about it the past 50 years, I was comforted by the knowledge that I have done some pretty cool stuff. Here are some of the stuff I've done in the past 50 years:
I've caught touchdown passes. I once won a 5k completely hung over. I was a pretty good baseball player until I saw my first real good curveball when I was 16. I knew when I was whipped. I played competitive tennis up until the body started falling apart on me. There is a reason nobody in their forties is on the ATP tour. I took up golf in my forties. My goals were to get good enough to play with my buddies, with my brothers and in the church golf tournament. Admittedly, lofty goals these are not. But how many people in golf can say they have attained a goal? Without lying that is?
I have met the following people: Pete Maravich, Elgin Baylor, Keith Jackson, Donna Douglas (you know, Ellie Mae from the Beverly Hillbillies), Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee (the obese one) and Mike Huckabee ( the svelte one) David Pryor, Dale Bumpers, Vic Snyder, Frank Broyles, Steve Shields, both the current and former Roman Catholic Bishops of Arkansas ( I even share a birthday with the former. He's getting on up there. But then again, so am I), cabaret chanteuse Susan Douglas (she reminds me of a squirrel on crack) Walker Percy's brother Phin and his son Will. I'm sure there are others. But I am already getting forgetful here in my dotage.
With mine own eyes I have seen the following: Elvis Costello, Van Gogh's "Self-Portrait", Renee Richards, the Rolling Stones, a tennis match between Pete Sampras and Todd Martin (They split sets-Sampras won in a tiebreaker), Bruce Springsteen, Ytzhak Perlman, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks at the Diner", Kiss (I am so ashamed), and Squeeze.
I saw Matt Jones complete that hope-to-Jesus pass that beat LSU. I saw Darryl Strawberry take a ball off of the wall in right field at old Ray Winder and gun a Traveler out by @ 3 ft. It's still just about the damnedest thing I've ever seen. I once saw Reggie Jackson just evaporate a pretty good fastball thrown by Jim Palmer. I saw Ron Guidry pitch that same night. A little guy. Surely to God no man that small has thrown a ball that hard since Koufax. I saw my friend Phil hit a wedge 141 yards after telling us that he was gonna do it because he was pissed. I saw Kenoy Kennedy once tackle some kid from Kentucky so hard my brother and I thought he had killed him. He didn't.
I once had a piece of paper autographed by Lew Alcindor. I lost it. I could kick myself.
I saw two of my friends die horribly. One died of melanoma. The other had AIDS. If there are worse ways to die, I don't want to see them. Myself, I should have been killed 9 times over myself. Testosterone, alcohol, females and motor vehicles are a way dangerous combination. If that wasn't bad enough, I once talked a mugger out of blowing my head off with a 9mm.
I have been lucky beyond what I deserve. And I know it.
I used to sing with the Symphony Chorus . I have sung the tenor aria "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted" from "Messiah." It ain't as hard as it sounds. I have sung for countless weddings and funerals. I prefer funerals. Sad as they are, you know that at least one person in attendance won't be bitching about the music. I used to be the Cantor at a Catholic Church here in town. Not many people knew I was under the radar being a Methodist and all. I don't sing much anymore.
I would rather play golf.
I can state without hesitation or fear of contradiction that I have gotten more late night calls from drunks than the front desk at the Bridgeway. One of my buddies used to get hammered and punch in area codes at random until his fingers stumbled across a place where he knew somebody. He would then ask Directory assistance to call the numbers for him. Unfortunately, 501 got dialed in a lot in those days. A guy I hadn't seen in 20 years once called in order to threaten to kill me for allegedly stealing his girlfriend in college. Or guys wanting to talk sports. At 2 am. A woman to whom I was engaged once called wanting to know "what happened to us?" I told her that she left me and moved to Texas and hung up. I still get calls late at night. Just not from drunks. This is an improvement.
I have loved and lost. Losing sucks. Then again, last time I looked nobody was dead or nothing. So it goes.
I have the best friends a man could have. Included in that number are a bunch of females who, in equal measure, stay on my ass and worry about me behind it. I have 4 great nephews. I have 3 adequate brothers. I have a little girl across the street who likes to come over and sit with me on the porch swing. I have enjoyed the happy sounds of little boys playing in my back yard.
I have also enjoyed robust good health. I have never gone without. I know, I really, really, know how blessed and fortunate I have been these last 50 years. Like everyone else I wish I could get some "do-overs." As the old communion rite goes, "I have done those things I ought not to have done and I have left undone those things I should have done."
And the rembrance of these things is grievous unto me. They really are.
I have been blessed. I am, for the most part, content with how the first 50 years have succeeded each unto each.
Home. Home is where I'll be but I guess I'm already there.
I come home. She lifted up her wings.
I guess that this must be the place.
I can't tell one from the other. Did I find you or you find me?
There was a time before we were born if someone asks
This is where I'll be.
So far so good. There's room for improvement, God knows. But so far so good. The less we say about it the better.
But hopefully, God willing, and for the foreseeable future, this is where I will be.