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Su Lum: Slumming

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

When I was in seventh grade, I made up a list of 27 New Year’s resolutions, including such inanities as “I will be more tidy,” “I will improve my handwriting,” “I will stop swearing,” “I will be nicer to people” and on and on.

A week later, I wrote in my diary, “My New Year’s resolutions are ruining my life.” No one accepted, believed or liked the new me, and neither did I.

I never made any New Year’s resolutions after that, but I have one for 2013: I am going to get younger this year.

Despite the propaganda and outright lies about the Golden Years, getting old totally sucks. Surely if I wish upon a star or write it down as a resolution, I’ll get my hearing and eyesight back, my neck will unwrinkle, I’ll be able to breathe, those ropy veins will disappear and my spinal discs and brain cells will regenerate.

There’s an old saying, “Once an adult, twice a child,” meaning that, as you deteriorate, you become more infant-like and helpless. That being the case, it should work both ways.

If I’m going backward in time, shouldn’t I be able to grow a new set of teeth?

Shouldn’t I be learning new words instead of forgetting the ones I already know? It’s difficult to have a conversation when it goes something like, “I’m reading this great book. Uh, I forgot what the title is, but it’s written by that lady, you know, her name starts with an A – she wrote that other book about uh, uh – oh, hell.”

Babies have keen hearing. Most babies will spring wide awake at the drop of a feather, but I can sleep through ringing phones and fire alarms. The other day, I was having lunch with my granddaughter and thought I heard her order beef entrails. I said, “Beef entrails?” Riley rolled her eyes. “Beet and kale salad, Su.”

“Wancher chee?” a cashier asked me at City Market. That was easy because she said what I expected her to say, “Do you want your receipt?” but without the context, I wouldn’t have had a clue. Baby, baby, lend me your ears.

Babies grow older and grow hair; I grow old, and my hair falls out. Babies are so flexible they can suck their own toes; I haven’t been able to touch my toes for a decade.

Instead of getting more agile as I become an infant, my stiff knees make me walk like Frankenstein’s monster.

Nasty surprise, all you olding people – your skin doesn’t get as firm and soft as a baby’s butt; it hangs in folds like drapery, and you’ll find that the soles your feet, if you can bend over enough to touch them, turn into horny hooves.

Anyway, I’m sticking to my resolution to get younger this year, but I suspect the real truth lies in the riddle of the Sphinx: What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three legs in the evening?

Answer: a baby crawling, an adult walking upright and an old person with a cane.

You can’t go back again.


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