Diamonds and rust — old is the ‘new’ new
A person can segue from “revered” to “forgotten” in a heartbeat. Bob Dylan was picked up by law enforcement in 2009 because a young, ignorant police officer didn’t recognize his name, and he wasn’t carrying his ID. The police had received a phone call from a concerned citizen regarding a suspicious, scraggly old man strolling through his/her neighborhood. That “suspicious” man had been walking in the rain without a raincoat or umbrella, and had been peeking into a window of a house that was up for sale. To be fair, Dylan has become pretty scraggly looking.
That reminds me of a funny line in the 1955 flick, “The Tender Trap,” in which Debbie Reynolds tells Frank Sinatra that he’s attractive “in an off-beat, beat-up sort of way.”
Dylan was ordered into the back of the squad car, and was returned to his hotel, where the officer called her older colleagues. Their responsive raucous laughter will undoubtedly follow her till life’s end. Hopefully, with newly altered neural pathways, she will educate herself in music history and approach seniors with a different perspective.
I’m usually at the gym late mornings, when the silver-haired crowd reigns. Similar to the younger set, some are fit, some need improvement, and others face strong challenges. I watch a trainer push one particular wheelchair-bound, white-haired, fragile-appearing gentleman from machine to machine. He commended the gentleman one day on how far he had come in just four months. I can’t imagine the shape he had been in previously. I wonder about his life journey up to that point each time I see him.
“Since the elderly are already thought of by what they have in common – that they’re all old,” wrote David Greenburg, “I try to recast them as individuals.”
If you haven’t read Greenburg’s “The Duplex Planet: Everybody’s Asking Who I Was,” you’ve missed an endearing, humorous, poignant glimpse into the realm of seniors. His true affection for the residents of a Boston nursing home is reflected in his conversations with them. It’s one of my most treasured books because some of my favorite people were older relatives with diverse personalities who always surprised me. Their stories about familiar people and places always provided a greater depth of appreciation for the storyteller and those of which/whom they spoke. It was sad when one or two slipped into dementia or Alzheimer’s; generally sad, but more so because I knew the “before picture.”
On his Theme Time Radio Hour satellite show, Bob Dylan read an email from a listener, who complained that Dylan played too many old songs. Dylan responded, “There are more old songs than there are new ones.”
“Old” actually seems to be the new “new.” The popularity of vintage cocktails, music, clothing, and automobiles continues to grow. People who enjoyed those the first time around might be considered vintage as well.
They are living historical characters and the stories they carry could knock your socks off. Listen.