The Old Man and the Fence(s)

John, of my brother fame, is my Guest Blogger today! He wrote the following for his Facebook yesterday.

So many of you took the time to stop by my home page today to comment that I am a year older, and I would like to thank you, because I have to assume you meant well.

This is the part of the FB experience where the birthday boy says something brief and funny about his special day.  As I am sure you have all concluded by now, my comments will be neither of those things.

I was thinking about the various ways that we come about the realization that we’re getting older…there are the obvious ones: hair no longer growing on your head, but really coming in nicely on the knuckles.  Or finding yourself using the word “scram” more often around children.

I have come across a new way to tell when you have rounded that corner to oldness.


Not fences in terms of keeping dogs in and people out,  I am thinking more like fences as obstacles.

Over the past several months I have had two distinct encounters with fences that brought my battle with Father Time into full relief.

The first incident took place late last summer down at the beach.  Had a few drinks, and a buddy and I were walking back to his house.  We took a pretty major short cut which allowed us take a  solid 20 minutes off our hike, but it also required a little trespassing.

The trespassing included an 8-foot-high wooden fence with vertical slats.

Good example of a wood fence.

Now, in the olden days, this would have required a quick leap to grab on to the top, a combo pull-up/ leg swing to the top and a quick dismount to the other side.  All pulled off with the ease of a marine sleepwalking his way through another obstacle course.

My effort proved a little more complicated.

First, there was a quick jump to get my hands on the top of the fence, followed immediately  by me shooting one of my legs out to the side.  Not really sure what I thought my leg would be doing, but it was, in no way, assisting me to the top.

Then came the futile fence-hang…nose pressed up against the wood. Slowly, I began to slide down the fence with my shirt being dragged up and hoping that the friction between the slivers and my stomach hair would not ignite the fence.

“opp…bad grip”

that means…”that was a pretty good grip, I just had no idea what to do afterwards”

So now I have, at least, alerted my body to what it’s up against.  I managed to summon the kind of strength usually reserved for mothers with kids stuck under cars, and clawed my way to the top of the fence.

Now, remember earlier about the dismount. Yeah.

This time, I was so happy that I made it that far, I kind perched there for a little rest.  Two things going through my mind at this, don’t make any sudden, wrong moves that will cause me to pinch one of my testicles off my body.  Second, I realize that just because gravity was my enemy on the way up, I shouldn’t think it will all of the sudden be my pal on the way down.

It is one of those situations where if you’re alone, you have to scope out a nice soft area on the ground to direct your descent toward.  Otherwise, you hit your head on a rock and you just have to hope Lassie wanders by and decides to go alert the townsfolk.

Okay…so that ended ok. Just a half-climb, half-fall come-down that was over before I knew it.  So many things could have gone wrong and none them did.  Whew.  Once over, I was obliged to lend my buddy a hand as he makes his move.  That typically ends up in some sort of asexual pig pile on the dirt…with a lot “dude!”‘s being screamed.

The second fence encounter took place at a buddy’s condo complex down by the waterfront.  We were drinking, but at some point we realized we were going to need to drink a lot more.

We decided to walk to the store, but soon discovered that the parking lot had been closed off and the only way out was under the gate.  This provided a very generous foot or so of space above the concrete.

Again..old days: get yourself in some sort of pilates/push-up position, hands out above your head, feet spread and nose an inch or so off the ground.  If you can picture Camillo Villegas lining up a putt, you have the idea.  If your life had a sound track, there would be quick bursts of piano keys as you sidled underneath the opening. Jump to your feet, clap your hands real quick and you’re on your way.

That is not how it went.

First thing I did was get myself in to that push-up position.  That went okay for the first half of a second.  Before there was any attempt to begin the sideways crawl, my muscles gently lowered me to the ground.

So, my first move was just sort of a ground-based side shuffle…and that’s really no good.  Your shirt buttons are getting hung up, you’re spitting out little pebbles and every sensation you feel is undoubtedly a spider crawling towards your inner ear.

That’s when I decided to go with the roll.

Unless you’re on fire, old people should not roll. I looked like a car trying to drive after the cops just shot out its tires. It was kind of bumpy and lurchy, and at one point my head smashed against the iron gate because keeping my head down was the only thing I needed to remember to do, and ended up being the only thing I forgot to do.

I made it to the other side, after an extra full revolution…I guess my eyes were closed and I overshot it.  I was headed towards the street when I finally checked my bearings.   I slowly got to my feet, cleaned myself as best I could and immediately began to look for other ways back in. I was thinking pole vault or giant sling shot.

So there you go…a useful illustration of how to realize you’re getting old.

When you can no longer go over or under a fence.

I am now officially the “once you get over, go around and unlock the gate” guy.

Thanks again for thinking of me today, everyone.  From now on, we use fences only to lean on and discuss each others lawn fertilizer over.


21 thoughts on “The Old Man and the Fence(s)

  1. Oh, John – I feel your pain! (Well, I feel -some- pain, so…) Happy birthday and many happy returns from a total and complete stranger who just happens to be a fan of your sister Maggie’s writing!

  2. Why have I not met your brother or your Texas-escapee sister, for that matter? Are you mad at me? I have met your Lady Boner daughter, though. (And I’m really disturbed reading those words I just typed.)

    Miss you. xoa

  3. “Strength usually reserved for mothers with kids stuck under cars…”
    My favorite sentence! !!

    I know how you feel. I couldn’t do a pull-up now if my life depended on it!

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