Golden Years

(Courtesy of Moss Puppy Magazine)

I see the same old man dressed as a sea captain on the side of the road every time I
drive down to the docks.

He’s 70 or 80 or 90 but definitely ancient and always spinning spinning spinning a
sign advertising a local marina that offered guided charters of the wetlands.
Impervious to the weather; a permanent fixture in a jaunty white cap and crisp blue
blazer when he should have been dressed like an alligator similar to the ones the
tours specialized in spotting since he was as ancient as they were and he deathrolled his signs with his constant spinning spinning spinning. I envy how surprisingly
spry and nimble he is for a man of his age. When traffic slows I can see the beads of
sweat washing down his face as he’s spinning spinning spinning because this is the
Gulf Coast and we’re a concrete jungle built on a swamp and it was hot yesterday
and it’s hot today and will be hot again tomorrow. If I were a better person I’d buy
him a bottle of water because he must be thirsty but I’m selfish and self-absorbed
and it’s the thought that counts so I honk to get his attention but not in an arrogant
manner and he nods and I nod and we exchange glances because that’s what men
do we look and then look away and yet he never misses a beat spinning spinning

As I sit down for lunch I can’t help but wonder how the alligator captain got to this
point in his life at 70 or 80 or 90 years that he can’t enjoy the golden years and retire
instead relying upon some minimum wage job touting a local marina when he’s
probably never left shore once in his life.

Instead he’s spinning spinning spinning his sign with knotted gnarled knuckles.
Perhaps that’s what keeps him young and in shape rather than joining one of those
ridiculous Silver Sneakers groups at the YMCA with their mismatched chairs turning
the basketball court into god’s waiting room. Maybe it gets him out of the house
away from some nagging wife or the ghost of a wife who never nagged but he is
nagged by her presence every time he’s in the house so it’s better on the side of the
road closer to the swamps and away from the ghosts.

I’ll never be that old man because I have a plan. I take comfort in this and smile to
myself as I sit enjoying my two-for-four dollar chicken sandwiches and unlimited
coffee refills in the gas station convenience score while scratching off lottery tickets.

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