Unshaven— retired—Larry is dressed in his usual ragged attire of holey blue jeans and a multi-stained red flannel shirt. He is feverishly pulling weeds in our front yard flower garden while tunes float from his iPod. His newly purchased cell phone is securely fastened to his tattered belt for instant retrieval. Less than a year ago, macho 6’ 2” Larry would not be caught dead with either one of these devices. He mocked the cellular world by taking a dead phone and banging it on the table shouting, “Can you hear me? Can you hear me, now?” But Larry wanted to buy a travel trailer for retirement years to see two of our grown children and grandchildren in Montana, and I would not approve of the purchase unless “I” got my desired wish—a cell phone. The devices are now precious commodities to him. I was given the golden cell phone rule, “Thou shalt not talk on the cell phone while driving.” If I committed such a crime, my punishment would be confinement to the backyard shed for a week with nothing more than bread and water for sustenance.
Life has radically changed over the past year. Now that I am also retired from teaching, I have more time to clean the house and to do the wash properly. Did I say properly? Honestly, I checked his pockets, but missed his precious iPod in his back pocket. To my dismay, it was doing a backstroke on the bottom of the washing machine. It has been secretly drying out in the kitchen drawer for a week now. Do I tell him or continue to lead him to believe the iPod is missing in the cluttered menagerie of the house? I called Best Buy and Circuit City for life support and advice on how to renew sanitized iPods. Their bleak statement was to run while the running was good, or I might be confined to the attic with no food at all.
I reminded myself that it was just a gift from our precious daughter, Julie, and her husband Geoff so they didn’t have to listen to Enya, Elvis and Hank Williams while Grandpa Larry remodeled their 118-year old home in Chicago. They only downloaded 750 songs for him.
Have I heard somewhere that being retired is like returning to those carefree days of yesteryear? What carefree days? Who has them with the economy on the brink of disaster, and bread at $4.00 a loaf? Now that’s a thought; I might not get bread while serving time in the shed.
To the astonishment of us all, the iPod did dry out and works well today.