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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Whoever says old dogs can’t learn new tricks is wrong. They can learn. It might be painful, but they can learn. Here’s how I know.
As much as we enjoy the beach, come the Fourth of July, we usually just hang around the house. Maybe barbeque under the live oak and enjoy a dip in the pool. Done it for the last twenty or so years.
This year was a little different, and upon reflection, I understand a little better the relationship between the expressions ‘growing old’ and ‘wisdom’ and ‘pain’.
You see, our younger daughter and her husband rented a cabin down around Crystal Beach for the week of the Fourth. We couldn’t decide when to go down. Bask in the sun, spend one night, then maybe visit Galveston for lunch the next day.
Now we knew the Fourth would be jammed along the beach, but we’d never been on that holiday, and remembering way back—way, way back to those halcyon days of blistering sun, sweat, cold beer, sand between the toes, we decided to give it a shot.
The day dawned bright and clear, an ideal beach day.
We arrived around ten. Our son-in-law, Jason, was there to meet us. I headed back to the car for the last of our items. As I made my way across the yard, I heard what sounded like ‘Pa, Pa.’ I looked around, but all I saw was Jason’s pickup. Then came the words again. “Pa, Pa, Pa.”
All of a sudden, a grinning face popped over the windowsill and my little granddaughter, Kenli, laughed.
Of course, grandpa had to pick her up and play with her.
Someone suggested walking to the beach. We were only in the second row back. I eyed the hot sand, the blistering sun, and opted for the pickup. Besides, someone had to hold Kenli.
My eyes popped out when we reached the beach. That sucker was jammed. There wasn’t enough room for a greased goose to squirt through.
As far as I could see up and down the beach, gaily colored canopies were sandwiched shoulder-too-shoulder with only enough space between them for one or two vehicles.
Now, Jason is one of those who guys likes to get everything in place. He’d gone down early to set up two ten-foot square canopies side by side, drop off several ice chests as well as lawn chairs and, not forgetting the little ones, a couple of canvas cots for naps.
All that was missing was a TV, and I’ve no doubt he could have probably figured out how to do that if we’d demanded one—or if LSU were playing.
The little ones played in the sand and water. Keegan and Mikey used their little boogie-boards and actually were growing somewhat adept at riding them. From time to time, Mikey or Keegan would run up and ask me to ‘boogie’. I begged off.
I was sitting in the shade sipping on a cool beer. Sand between the toes and sweat somehow had lost their appeal.
The kids’ parents enjoyed the sun, gathering at the water’s edge, laughing and telling stories. I couldn’t help remembering how I once did that, way back when. Way, way back when.
My wife, Gayle, braver than me, sat in the sun at the edge of the canopy with Susan, our older daughter. But I was content, relaxing in a lawn chair in the shade of the tent, nursing ice cold beer to combat the heat.
We had a nice breeze, and couple times, I started to take off my tee shirt and straw hat, but opted not too. Don’t misunderstand. The fact Jason and his friends’ bodies looked sculpted out of granite had nothing to do with my own physique. I was sculpted. When my chest dropped to my waistline, it left the smoothest sculpted little curve.
Gayle and Susan stayed out in the sun.
After a few hours, Kenli, the granddaughter, grew sleepy.
I’ll be honest For some inexplicable reason, I was tired. I’d had enough heat and sand for a while so I volunteered to stay with her a the cabin. Besides, I had a new mystery to read, and the idea of peace and quiet, a good book, an air-conditioned room, and a cold beer was like playing four aces on a pair of threes.
No way could I lose.
Later, we went back to the beach.
We planned on a lazy evening, and a relaxing night watching fireworks.
But age has a way of creeping up on a body.
I never realized how tired you can get sitting in a chair in the shade drinking beer. Now, I have noticed over the years, I can’t take the sun like I did when I was just a younker. I can wear shorts eight months a year, but my legs seldom tan. Oh, they might grow one or two shades darker, but a couple days out of the sun and they’re lily white once again.
So, when I say my wife had just a wee bit too much sun, you know what I mean. Remember what it was like to get a sunburn and can’t stand anything to touch your skin?
That’s how she felt., And I was exhausted. Don’t kid yourself, sitting in the shade an be tiring.
By six o’clock, we were headed back to Port Neches for baggy clothes and a handful of lysine for fever blisters.
We missed the fireworks.
Keegan said they were fantastic and he could even see the Galveston firework display across the channel.
All in all, it was a great day even though Gayle hurt for a couple days. Me, I was still tired the next day. Seems like it always takes me longer to recuperate than last time. You know what I mean?

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