No, don’t take the following story too seriously. It’s not meant to be serious. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants story. It’s only a story.
Again, With Bite
Sit still, you old bugger. I’ll strap you in proper and we’ll head off to the quacks. No, it’ll be quiet. Everyone’s at home. There’s a new illness. Don’t squawk, you’re getting spit all over the harness. Not that disease, a different one. Okay, we’ve both got it, and it’s been around a while. What is it? How about a syndrome? You know what it is. Yeah, you do. Come on, think harder. Got an answer?
What, never heard of it?
Cranky Old Fart syndrome. It’s what they say when we nip those rude comments in the bud. I mean to say, how can anyone think they’re the only ones who know how to think? We could show ‘em a thing or two, right?
Well, I could, even if you don’t talk real good anymore. Age don’t stop the mind working, right? Just think it, I’ll get the gist, and I’ll give ‘em a big nipper on the nose for you.
Although, I am thinking of renaming the syndrome. What should it be? Crabby Old Farts? I like that, implies a bit of danger, a bit of cunning and speed that’s gonna get ‘em if they try on too much of that fancy word shit.
No, no. I haven’t done anything yet. Well, nothing too bad. But I tell you, those idjits —
Okay, don’t yabber. You know what they call us … what is it again? Geriatric? Even worse stuff, too. A waste of air, you hear them say that? I have. Snooty.
Do they think getting old is never going to happen to them? Do they think age is too far off into that rosy bright future? Do they think we didn’t go through two or four wars, two or four pandemics, two or four economic busts? Do they think we keep telling them to buy a house because it’s economically sensible?
They don’t know, do they?
Nobody remembers the trouble we lived through, or what we had to learn to get through it. Remember? Yeah, I remember. My mum and her panic every week about how many days we’d go hungry. Dad and his wandering to find work or scrounge scraps, food or wood or metal, so he could make or sell or … yeah, I remember only too well.
Sleeping naked wasn’t a choice, it was saving clothes. Same with shoes. Only wear ‘em if you have to, if someone’s gonna see beyond the front you put up.
What do they know?
The first two world wars, the Korean War, VietNam, Afghanistan. And that’s not counting all those other conflicts, all the peace-keeping actions. We gotta do that stuff, stop the things like what happened in Cambodia and all those African countries. It won’t help being non-confrontational — you know those words, don’t you? Said a lot, these days, but that’s politics. And saying those words doesn’t mean there won’t be trouble coming. And you gotta show some front, puff the chest out so they don’t walk all over the little guys.
Why? Don’t you come over all hippy on me, mate, or I stop pushing your wheel-chaired arse to the doc’s every week. We are the little guys, we don’t count in the big game. Nothing more than — Oy! Don’t smack me. I’m just talking, you know. I’m trying to make sense of the world, of people, the panic.
Why prepare for the worst, you ask. Well, look at now. We have a pandemic, we have economic disasters, we have people out of work and desperate, no access to gardens or neighbourhood help systems. People die of the virus, people die of starvation, people die ‘cos they’re left alone in the old folks homes, people die ‘cos they’re scared to go outside.
We’ve been there. Remember that Spanish ‘flu? The Asian ‘flu? The Swine ‘flu? The chook ‘flu?
Okay, it wasn’t chook ‘flu, it was Avian some-shit ‘flu. Same deal.
These things are always there, always threatening. Something new every few years, some bad, some worse, some we don’t even want to keep the memories of — remember polio? The death rate for whooping cough and measles? Every generation has a burden to carry, and they have to learn how to do that, but how do these ones do it?
They reach to science and technology, they look to the new and the novel — shut your mouth, mate. I’m still talking, and I can call it what I like — but they don’t talk to us. They don’t ask what we did to help our neighbours, to share what we had. They don’t ask how to set up the lines of communication that travel surer than internet.
Yeah. Friends, talking every day. Talking to neighbours. Knowing their names, their kids, when they’re not well enough to cut the grass. Being part of the whole.
Just ‘cos we’re old and gonna die soon doesn’t mean we got nothing to offer, does it?
You shut up, old man, or I’ll dig my claws outta these gloves and give you a right old pinch on the arm.
Right, let’s give ‘em the run around. He, he, he. Life’s too short to miss out on the fun of knowing just how people think and act, and to pinch out the expectations. And don’t you call me crabby. That’s my sign, not my line, and I could walk straight if I had to toe the line for the law, but not otherwise, alright.
Crabby old fart coming through.
It’s because we’re in Cancer now, and this was a bit of a distraction from the current WIP.