The Old Coot is marked

When I was a kid, say in the seven- to ten-year-old range, I almost always sported a scab on my knee and elbow. Sometimes, a blackened fingernail joined the duo; it took forever to grow out. Even my socks and pant legs were marked, not by rips and tears, but with burdock balls that decorated my faithful dog’s fur as well. 

Fast-forward seven decades and here I am, looking like that younger self. Back then the knee abrasions came from bicycle accidents – a pant leg caught in the chain while coming down the steep hill I lived on, and crashing onto a cinder side road near the bottom – all because I was not able to push the pedal backwards to engage the brake (no hand brakes in those days).  

The scab I sport on my knee at the moment came from banging it while sitting at the table and bumping it while switching positions. The one on my elbow came from walking out the back door and bumping into the lock mechanism. The other decorations I sport come from similar, seemingly innocent missteps – it’s what happens when you are an old coot. 

Like most of us old guys, I’m on a low dose, daily aspirin regimen to keep my heart healthy. This results in small bleeds under the skin. If we bump into too many things we look like some thug beat us up in an alley. Our old skin enclosure also thins as we age – aspirin or not. Sometimes those bruises break through and walla! We look like a 10-year-old again. Add a suntan to the equation, further thinning the skin and we are officially “thin skinned” – literally!  

Oh sure, I have some rips and tears of the bicycle accident variety, but not from falling off with my pant leg caught in the chain. Mine come from swinging it around in the garage to point it in the other direction and brushing my leg with the pedal. The black fingernail I sported all summer is something for which I have no explanation. 

When I was a kid I knew exactly where it came from, a hit with a hammer while building a tree fort in the woods. I picked up the burdock walking through fields to get to and from the woods on South Mountain in Binghamton. It was harder to deal with than a cut or a scrape.  

They say you go through a second childhood when you get old, so here I am, heading towards 80 like a rocket, looking like a 10-year-old with a bike and a tree fort. 

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