I’m sitting in a window seat at the Owego Kitchen, watching two robins waddle around, pecking at worms in front of the post office. Not too exciting you say. You’re wrong. It is, for an old coot, anyhow.
It’s a nice distraction from a changing world. When you’re young, you can’t wait for change – to graduate from school – to get a job – to get your own place – to get married – to buy a new car.
Eventually, you go the other way; you don’t want change; you want things to stay the way they are. That’s when you officially become an old coot. You’ve decided that change is not for the better, at least not for you.
It means another friend moved away; he gave up winter and moved to Florida or Arizona. It means your favorite restaurant just went out of business. It means you’ve heard yet another clerk say, “They don’t make that anymore.”
You just want to block out the changes that pop into your life in an endless parade: eggs are bad for you, coffee is bad for you, meat is bad for you, it can’t be repaired, the lawn mower won’t start unless you squeeze the handle (and keep squeezing it the entire time you are mowing). CHANGE! UGH!
Today’s change is my elbow – the right one, to be specific. It hurts. It’s a new pain; I’ve never had it before. So, I sit here drinking coffee with my left hand, dribbling a few drops on a clean shirt, distracting myself by watching two robins. Eventually, I’ll have to get back to the elbow and try to puzzle it out, to wonder why I didn’t appreciate it last week when it felt so good. And, I’ll have to face the question, “What did you do to it?” When I reply, it will be the same answer I’ve had for every other new pain. “Nothing!”
I did some “old man” push-ups (standing up and leaning into a wall). I moved some books to different shelves and sawed a board in half with a handsaw. Not really much of anything! I hate this conversation; it always gets me the same response, from everybody I complain to – my doctor, my wife, and my friends. “You’ve got to expect that at your age!”
I’ve learned to deal with these things, to turn lemons into lemonade as the saying goes (easier said than done, I might add). I’ll complain enough to get out of some unpleasant chores. I’ll make a sling or buy an elastic elbow support to let the world know that I’m sporting an injury. I’ll tell people it is tennis elbow. I won’t mention that the last time I played tennis was in 1991 when my daughter Amy beat me for the first time. That’s when I paraded out the tennis elbow excuse.
Now, the pain that I faked so long ago has finally arrived. It would be even more embarrassing than losing to a 17-year-old if I had to reveal the real cause. I figured it out as I sat here watching the robins. The pain comes from constantly walking around with a coffee container in my hand. My elbow finally gave out. I have coffee elbow! Ouch!
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