THE 50 PLUS CLUB

Sometimes I feel like I am 27, but lately I been feeling closer to 67. So when I am lucky enough to feel my real age, (51) I make the fierce resolution to live that properly. At least that is my intention when I occasionally feel like a steady, secure and content 51. Doesn’t happen often lately, but when it does, it is the greatest overall feeling. In fact, it is about feeling at your best where, when and how you find yourself being well in the moment. Being content and secure are two very good indicators of feeling “right“ in one‘s skin.

As we age, most of us feel new physical pains we never felt before, and feel less and less sure about being able to do certain things we use to do so easily. We are also prone to feel less secure about our future that seems to be changing faster than we are, and seemingly right under our feet.

And now that we are living longer and longer in the first world, I believe that it is essential for us to remain useful and flow with the changes whether we like them or not while trying to not be a burden on others. Acceptance is key. The natural order of things however makes sure that living too long doesn’t work well. Evolution demands an out with the old in with the new process as the necessary order of things, quickly, efficiently and without prejudice or judgement. Trying to outplay this can be hazardous, and this is what is happening here. And as we hang on to our lives and again try to challenge natural fact by persisting in staying alive for as long as we can and adjusting our behaviour and habits in hanging on to our largely insignificant lives for as long as we can. By doing this we are encountering new challenges that we have not dealt with before. The question that kept coming to mind on Wednesday night was, why do we hang on to our lives so hard ? We say it is for others who count on us, but that is usually an excuse for not wanting to go and make room for the future, - others being the reason is a good answer nonetheless, because it gives staying alive after reproduction a purpose which seems worthy and selfless, yet somewhat unnecessary now, especially as males.

Oscar Wilde once wrote that we really only have a few years to live and feel alive. In other more modern words, only a few years to be full of spunk, about 20 to 30, the rest is superfluous and lacking a certain purpose in the face of evolution. Which is in fact all about spurring on growth and renewal. In the end, this is the whole purpose of this great play which keeps unfolding and repeating itself to some unknown end, if any. Once we have reproduced, the natural order of things has little use for us, again especially for males, except to move on and hunt again. Yet as we get older, staying alive becomes gradually laced with all sorts of unpleasant stuff like physical pain, dulled senses, menopause, andropause and finally death in whichever way the body finally gives out. So now, how will we deal with the effects of our aging population? We have never in our whole history lived and/or seen this before. The social consciousness is inevitably changing as our  population gets older and lives longer and longer as the younger ones react and cope with this in ways we can not totally anticipate. So the social consciousness will by the force of things get more insecure, crankier, and slower to run, and this does not collectively make for a hopeful & happy climate in general. Again, this is a new situation we have never seen before in the whole of our history, - 10 thousand generations have passed and this situation has never happened before, yet we go about thinking that all will be fine. It won’t, we are not smart enough to outplay the natural order of things, even if we think we can, the consequences will be rampant soon, in a decade or so. We may be too short-sighted, greedy, inattentive, scared, unquestioning and hasty in reacting intelligently to this, all signs of being pretty dumb collectively.

Tonight I left the shop around 7 PM feeling pretty good physically on this beautiful summer night in the season of life. I had a repair to do, so I was justified in my going to a bar on a weeknight, I felt that it was useful to have people playing pinball again on this night, and so providing the younger people the chance to be playful. But why not blend some fun in it for myself as well while I was at it. I had my eyes and mind wide open so as to take in this cultural city and its young vital creatures which grace its streets. I didn’t have any family obligations or responsibilities to tend to that night, which would had otherwise kept my mind preoccupied and limited. In fact, obligations in general end up making one feel less able to do what is truly desired instictively and help to hinder us in remaining open and carefree when we sometimes need to be in order to get back to daily business. We sometimes need a break in order to be able to feel maybe a little younger and lighter. Most of us still seek this as valuable.

I stopped at the Pharamaprix in St.Henri near the shop in order to take my blood pressure before heading to town (a precautionary measure) and saw two guys fighting over a can of beer. It almost came to blows. One guy was in his sixties and hanging on hard to the can, and the other was in his twenties fiercely yelling at the older guy that it was his and to let go of it. I watched from a distance and waited in case it came to blows, thankfully it didn’t, and the younger guy got hold on the can and told the old man that he was a crazy fuck. They each walked away from the conflict and stared long and harsh in each other’s direction as they cautiously moved apart.

I then drove up Atwater above Sherbrooke and past the beautiful houses and mansions along Doctor Penfield when suddenly I heard the metallic roar of a Ferrari which passed me swiftly on my right. Then on my left a rapid “swoosh” emanating from a powerful BMW which went passed me just as quickly. I realized that maybe I was driving a little slow, but I wasn’t, these two older males were trying to get ahead of each other for some reason. The road was bumpy like most Montreal streets, and I then heard a noise up ahead, the sound of scraping metal. The Ferrari was faster yes, but lower to the pot ridden streets that all of us drivers are forced to share regardless of what we own as vechicles.

Once at Suwu I prepared to see why the GTB 1957 “Ace High” wood rail was not resetting. What I am finding as these machines get older and are getting played more often again is that new things are begin to break that I have never seen before. The manager Alex, a young, slick extremely good looking guy in his twenties came by to greet me and looked on fascinated by the propped up playfeild as I continued looking for the reason they couldn’t play this fun machine. I looked to the relay bank under the playfield and located the reset relay. Sure enough, when I moved a wire on that relay, I got the machine to go through it’s reset sequence. No it wasn’t a dirty contact, it was a case of something I am seeing more and more with pins that are over 50. The solder simply cracks off the contact lead from continual vibration and usage. It broke clean off, and kept the shape of where it was melded onto the lug for the past half century. I called Nathan, one of the owners, and told him that although the machine had worked perfectly for the past 6 months or so on free play, these are new symptoms we will be starting to see in the near future and that it would be best to redo the hundreds of solders that some dead factory worker did in 1957. He didn’t understand what I was saying, but agreed nonetheless and asked me to give the invoice to Alex for payment. Short sighted thinking I thought, but what the heck, many of our political leaders are doing this these days. I said OK, but mentioned that Alex hadn’t offered me a beer yet and would he instruct him that this is the customary practise if he wanted a cut rate on the repair. So as I was closing up the machine and while playing a few test games, I was served an imported redheaded beer as is customary, and anything else I asked for during the remainder of the evening.

I took my place at the end of the bar so I could see the whole establishment and its patrons after putting my tool box back in the car and feeding the meter until 9PM. Alex took a break to ask me about how long I have been fixing pins. Well, he asked and I was in the mood to talk. Thirty years plus came the answer, and his eyebrows lifted slightly. He hadn’t pegged me as 51 yet and asked how old I was. I answered that I would forgive him for asking if he would forgive me for not answering. He broke out laughing and went off to tend to a table. He got busy, and I was approached by a waitress with a young and beautiful demeanour, mostly because my glass was empty. She started a conversation about the repair I did and I made her laugh. She was beautiful and full of life and vitality in conversation. As the evening went on, Alex and a couple more hipsters who had seen me fix the machine wanted to know more about the work I did. A French girl named Perrine with a strong European accent told me about her home town in France and how these machines were making a comeback, mostly in Paris cafés. I bought her a drink and let her talk, cause the French are naturally very boisterous and talkative, she was no exception. I watched her vivid and descriptive recounts of her father playing pinball across the pond. She had a summer dress on and I was hard pressed to not admire her honey thighs, her beautiful demeanour and body English. Life is sweet I thought as I took another sip. There was no other place I wanted to be at that moment. Some of her friends gradually gathered around as she continued talking about what she found fascinating in the “billiard electrique” culture and the old example of this game sitting at the entrance of this bar and how on some nights she becomes mesmerize by the action it provides.

I stayed at the bar until about midnight when fatigue finally took over and I left these young people to carry on with their evening. I felt like a 70 year old plus great grandfather on tour or something like that. It was time to leave. I am sure that someone like Mick Jagger feels young on the road, and that is why he is still touring, it can not possibly be for the money. In an interview I saw, he said that being on the road with the boys was like a break from the responsibilities of daily life. I understood this that night.

But I digress, in fact I had no role to play except being myself in the city, which I guess is my favourite role in a way too. I would never want to come off as some old hipster while in the midst of the youth that filled my night Wednesday, so I left as we all will have to someday, I guess that I am just practicing my exits for now.

Older people get crouchy when tired in general, and are usually in some sort of physical pain which generally makes them unpleasant and not fun to have around. I knew that I was getting to that state and did not want to hinder the evening that was just starting for these vital creatures.

So be playful and encourage discourse with those who are younger than you and for as long as you can, that is what I have come to understand as vital for now.

R.A.B.