Thursday, June 28, 2007


Yesterday, it seems, was all about fighting the years.

July's imminent arrival meant I had to spend most of the morning with my truck, preparing for the annual ritual of license-tab renewal. My wheels, an aging Suzuki XL-7 ("The Zook") I've put more than 112,000 miles on since buying it new in 2001, is now old enough that I have to pony up 40 bucks or so for an annual "smogging," a process by which a technician parks a device up the car's tailpipe to test its emissions for compliance with state law.

I have no problem doing this; indeed, with ourlocal air quality as bad as it is, every little thing one can do to reduce emissions is one less breath of something noxious. And I was pleasently surprised by the smogging venue I chose, one "Red Carpet Car Wash" here in town. Thanks to a website coupon, Red Carpet completed the smogging (and yes, The Zook passed with the proverbial flying colors) while providing a bonus inside-and-outside wash/dry/vacuum in record time, all for what most other venues in town charge for the mere smogging. Oh, and they left a pristine, still-wrapped copy of the day's newspaper in my truck for later reading. Nice.

After that, I was off to Jiffy Lube for a transmission flush. With said Zook having crossed North America twice -- once while pulling a 3,000-pound trailer -- that flush was more than overdue. Afterwards, The Zook shifted as nicely as it ever has; maybe I've bought it an addtional year or two of usable life. After witnessing copious amounts of unidentifiable gunk flowing lumpily from the drain hole, the tech even asked whether the transmission had ever been flushed before. I lied.

In the afternoon, The Boy and I curled up in the rocker-recliner for a summer nap. The air conditioner kept the room cool, the ceiling fan kept the air moving, and we both managed to doze off into blissful Napper Valley as we usually do. But thanks to neck-pillow misplacement, I woke up with a still-napping boy aboard and a set of neck vertabrae aching like a tooth and making more snaps, crackles and pops than a bowl of Rice Krispies. Every day, he gets bigger and stronger; every day, my bones get achier and my joints get noisier. So I suppose, 20 years from now when I'm confined to a scooter and curled into some unnatural Elephant Man position from arthritis and joint abuse, I'll look The Boy in the eye and say, "Hey, kid, I did this for you."

After a nice dinner and a wonderful story time for The Boy, he went to sleep and I -- my neck still sore -- curled up in front of PBS for a two-hour all-star show devoted to Paul Simon. He was receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Library of Congress. I was drinking a Pacifico and munching a nacho plate.

Great show, though. Shawn Colvin and Alison Krauss performed a stunning version of "The Boxer" at the show's outset, and other performers from my lost youth -- James Taylor, Art Garfunkel, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Wonder -- put on a tribute show that was nothing short of stellar. Even Simon himself did a few songs at the end.

But I couldn't help noticing one thing: They all looked so old.

Sure, the show's lighting was really bad, but Garfunkel looked like a blonde scarecrow. Lovett's face had more vertical creases than Wyoming's Devil's Tower. And Simon himself, bereft of his usual baseball cap because of the evening's black-tie nature, revealed the scraggly locks found after a lifetime of thinning without officially balding. Their sound was great, but clearly they were fighting the years.

This morning, I learn the event was broadcast in high-definition. Is it possible HD viewers were recoiling in horror at how the musical heroes from their youth looked? And like me, did they head to their mirrors afterward to check for wrinkles?

No comments: