Man and companion

“I get tired faster than I used to,” the old man said. “I remember looking at old guys and noticing how they walked, a step at a time, kind of stiff, like everything hurt at least just a little, and lately I’ve noticed myself walking like that.”

“Well, you’re old now,” said his companion.

“Really? I guess so,” said the man. “I do feel old, I guess, some days, and things look a lot fuzzier than they used to when I take off my glasses, and even when I don’t. And I find myself saying, ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’ more than I did even a little while ago. It bugs me, because I remember impressing a girl when I said, ‘Oh, here’s Columbia Street,’ when we were still half a block away, because I really could read the street sign, my eyes were that good. Yep, I’m feeling old today, no doubt about that.”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” said his companion.

“Me neither, come to think of it,” the man said. “It’s kind of neat being old. I remember old people talking about how it was when they were kids, and here I am talking about the 1950s and ’60s to people whose memories start in the 1980s and ’90s or even sooner, and most aren’t so impressed, but every so often someone will hear me talking about the first time I saw the brand new Ford Mustang — it was at the 1964 World’s Fair, if you want to know — and they’ll say, ‘That must have been something,’ and you can tell they honestly mean it. I said something about the summer of ’73 yesterday, and I was gobsmacked to realize that’s almost 50 years ago now, and I’ve lived through three times as many years now as I had then.

“Yep,” said his companion.

“Should I be imparting some kind of wisdom here, do you think?” said the man. “I don’t really know what I could say. Nobody would listen anyway. Oh, I suppose some might, but wisdom turns out to be something you have to find out for yourself, you know? I’m not sure I even ever found wisdom, and if I did and tried to share it, people would just nod and say, ‘That makes sense,’ while internally they would be rolling their eyes and not believing it until one day they realize it for themselves. That’s the only way anybody learns — for themselves — you know?”

“That makes sense,” said his companion.

“And now you’re just humoring me,” the man said. “Aren’t you?”

“Yep,” his companion said.

The wind blew, and the snow was falling more urgently now, and it was quiet for a long time.

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