Monday, January 11, 2010

Don’t ask me what I’m doing a week from Thursday

At this point in my life, I’m not interested in spending a weekend night in a Halsted Street bar. What I want is to know about you and what you’re up to. I want to share with you what I’ve done and where I did it, and talk about what should concern all of us.

by Leon Liberman, for LifeLube
Read his other musings.

I’m at it again. As before, I speak for myself but have the proverbial sneaking suspicion that others will agree with me.

I’d like this time around to sound off on some of the ongoing health needs of the aged such as myself that are little-acknowledged, if they’re acknowledged at all.

As older people, we dutifully keep doctor appointments, take our medication as instructed, work out at health clubs, and shop at Whole Foods to eat what’s good for us. If we're lucky, we have friends who keep us engaged with the community around us and we still have the energy and physical well-being to get out and see them.

But it seems as if being out today also means going out. Bars serving shamefully small over-priced drinks flourish. I have longtime good friends to whose home I have never been invited. We meet out for coffee, drinks, lunches, and dinners. It’s not that I don’t welcome being with my friends, but going out isn’t as preferable as being invited over.

Growing up in Chicago during the fifties, I met friends at Drake’s, a coffeeshop/restaurant at the corner of  State and Division. We sat for hours over endless cups of coffee without ever being at a loss for something to talk about.

Of course, we went to the Shoreline Seven (was a gay bar near State and Division) at times, but more times than not, we had our friends and theirs over to our places, even though most of those places were more modest than the places in which people live today.

At this point in my life, I’m not interested in spending a weekend night in a Halsted Street bar. What I want is to know about you and what you’re up to. I want to share with you what I’ve done and where I did it, and talk about what should concern all of us. All of this is or should be as important to keeping healthy as doctor visits, medications, exercise, and diet.

What’s more, now that I’m pushing 80 there’s an immediacy to what I want to do. Don’t ask me what I’m doing a week from Thursday or tell me that you’re writing for theater tickets for something taking place three months from now and invite me to join you. I think of something Garbo once said. She was asked on Monday to dinner on Saturday. “How do I know if I’m going to be hungry on Saturday,” she said.

What became of spontaneity? Are we all leading agenda-full lives at the risk of missing out on something worthwhile that turns up unexpectedly?

I spent many years living in Spain. In Spain, there was no “week from Thursday” or tickets in three months. Spaniards seldom buy theatre tickets before the morning of the day of a performance and will call to ask what you’re up to now or that night. I remember a friend calling one morning to tell me that she had just found something she thought I’d enjoy at the market and would I come to lunch.

I’ve been making the rounds of holiday parties in the last few weeks. Some of the invitations came several months ago. One host proudly told me that there were at least 85 guests at his party. I stayed a couple of hours and could only spend a few minutes with each of some of them.

There’s more to keeping healthy than the oft-repeated doctor visits, medication, exercise, and diet, especially for those of us who are older. Ask us to your place to talk and not suggest meeting at Starbucks. Keep in mind that we’d like to go to the theatre with you , but our modest incomes don’t usually allow for it. Remember that a week from Thursday or three months from now isn’t as much of a certainty for us as it is for you.

I’m computer illiterate and likely to stay that way. I’d welcome your comments and what you have to say about aging, maintaining good health, and suggestions for staying interested, amused, and participating. Jim Pickett at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago will pass on anything sent to me.

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