Every once in a while, life comes around and points with push-pin specificity to things that might otherwise be put on a blurred back burner -- stuff that's true, of course, but relegated to a room down the hall and out of sight.
In the area of old age, I am certainly capable of this. Since there's not much use in whining, there's not much use in addressing various wispy indicators. For example, a week or so ago, I was summoned for jury duty. Different from a lot of others, I have always wanted to serve on a jury ... and came pretty close once in an age discrimination case ... only to find that overnight, the lawyers had settled and the jurors were excused. Last week, my chance was revived with a notification in the mail. And at first, my heart was happy.
But as I read over the qualifications for being excused -- options I didn't really care about, but read anyway -- there was one that said you could be excused if you were over 70. And that one brought me up short: Why should the old farts be excused? The question went beyond age discrimination in my mind and led me to think, quite specifically, about my various physical needs and dwindling mental acuity. Could I sit comfortably and attentively for the better part of eight hours ... without needing to take a piss or two or three, for example? And as I went over the laundry list, it became clear that my desire to serve had been outflanked by some in-your-face facts. OK ... it was one more thing I was no longer capable of ... but after I marked the over-70 box and sent the form back to the state, I put the whole matter at a distance in my mind, in a room down the hall and out of sight.
But yesterday, I got nailed. I went for an annual physical exam and one of the small exercises was ascertaining my weight and height. No big deal. I was a little lighter than I expected, but the bigger surprise came when the aide had me remove my sandals and flatten my back against the wall beneath a measuring arm. "Seventy-one and a half," she pronounced laconically. Seventy-one and a half inches is not even six feet (seventy-two inches) tall. My entire adult life, together with moldering ID's to prove it, I had been six-feet-two-inches. Now I was five-feet-eleven-and-a-half. A deeply-interred assumption had been dug up and sharply revised ... and there was no escape.
No big deal in the great scheme of things and yet, for some reason, it was as if some mafia enforcer had gently, but firmly, broken my thumb. Already, I can feel myself nudging this latest fact down the hall and into a room that is out of sight. But still ....
What the hell happened to those two-and-a-half inches? Did I drop them in the supermarket or lose them out the car window? Where did they go?
The room down the hall and out of sight is starting to fill up with stuff that, somehow, must-be-ignored. There's only so much crap I can fit in there before the presumptions exercised in other rooms really find no credible space or purchase.
Assumptions really are presumptuous, I guess.