All my life one of the few things that really scares me has been the prospect of making a cosmic fool of myself.
Whether this started out of some form of misguided pride I don’t know. What I do know is that one way or another it’s something I’m really good at.
I’ve been thumbing through a thesaurus and there is really no politically correct way to explain my current dilemma other than to say that I have no ass.
When it comes to pants I have no visible means of support. No matter how tight I cinch the belt things go south on me at the most public of places. So far my cat-like reflexes have prevented a total fling your junk to the wind freefall, but I live in fear. The closest call lately was on a recent cadet trip to visit HMCS Haida.
Destroyers are not old man friendly ships. They are the greyhounds of the sea and those who sail them tend to be on the young, lean side.
Hatches are, to put it mildly, a tight squeeze. I was lumbering down an engine room ladder when I felt my drawers let go. The awful image of fresh young faces being exposed to a wrinkled, skinny, old butt was shattering. In my mind’s eye I could see the headlines that would be generated when a dozen cell phone cameras all caught the same cheeky image.
Luckily I grabbed my useless belt in one hand and pulled myself together, sort of, and hopped down the ladder on my good leg. Then damned if it didn’t happen again after we left the ship and were assembling in the midst of a crowd in the adjacent park.
In a moment of blind panic I pretended to drop something and I hit the dirt in a squat to pick it up, desperately fighting to correct this latest wardrobe malfunction.
Over the years, the good Lord must have gotten used to hearing me utter strange pleadings and answered me out of sheer pity and maybe a giggle. At any rate nobody fled in terror or fell down laughing so I assume I got away with it.
A few days later I was mowing the lawn when my shorts left the scene in mockery of my 72nd birthday. Luckily I was behind a fence as I stood dumbfounded at having suddenly gone commando.
Enough already, my luck can’t hold forever so I am now wearing braces, a belt and thinking of adding a length of parachute cord for insurance. Wearing both belt and suspenders is an embarrassment in itself and makes me look like something out of Little House On The Prairie. It’s hard to find braces with those little leather loops so I have to rely on the clip-on variety, which have a mind of their own and will snap loose and bust you in the eye while you’re flirting with the pretty cashier at the bait and tackle shop.
Then there’s dentures, hearing aids and all the rest of the vile paraphernalia that accompanies creeping elderhood and should be classified as hazardous material. There are shelves filled with powders and adhesives guaranteed to hold the choppers secure while you eat steak and corn on the cob. Some are touted as being able to hold a cement block in midair.
This is, of course, bull. Just when you reach the high point of your address at the symposium they will come unglued and leave you looking like somebody’s prize mule.
And hearing aids?
Mine just quit.