“Did I ever tell you the time…
I keep meeting these vets. The Vietnam era variety. While at the gym this afternoon, I noticed a little lady with her chart, struggling her way through her exercises with her husband in tow. He showed no interest in exercise at all, but he was tinkering around in his street clothes trying to kill some time.
He’d look at a machine, try a few reps then move on. He was in the worst shape you could be in without having a coroner in attendance. But I noticed the hat. The Vietnam Era Veteran hat.
So he’s sitting in the leg press machine getting ready to take a nap, when I approach and say, “Vietnam? What year? I was over there too.” I’ve seen this look before. You see it in Las Vegas from time to time, when the lemons line up. He just grinned.
It seems like it took forever for him to start speaking. It’s called the wind up.
Another rusty boat anchor whose best years are behind him and I happened to touch the one key on his piano that started his captive concert. And start it did. “I’m just a tired old man, licking his wounds from war.” Here we go. He’s eight younger than me.
To me, some vets are like alcoholics, they feel they have to keep treating the disease, to the exclusion of everything else. As is the norm for guys my age, he just rattled on and on, never asking me one thing about my experience. Memorializing to beat the band.
I was physically warmed up for exercise when I stopped to chat, and colder than the shady side of a dead Eskimo when his wife mercifully whisked him away.
This is always a lesson for me. Not just vets, but all older people should just ease up on the memorializing and not begin their sentences with “When I was your age….” It’s not attractive.
Get over thy self.