Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not so Grumpy Old Men

Back in Ohio for a visit with my mother and sister, my mother fed me to the wolves. On Saturday mornings at 10 she likes to attend a "coffee klatsch" in the dining room of her retirement living center. When she invited me, I said, sure, I'll come with you even though I don't drink coffee. Upon our arrival, she led me to a nearly full table of men. Wondering where she was going to sit, I looked for another chair to bring to the table. Oh no, I'll be over there, she said, pointing at a larger table filled with women (and one man).

Gulp. Well, maybe it'll be okay, I thought, as I identified myself to Russell, one of my mother's double first cousins, the result of two sisters marrying two brothers so as to deprive their offspring of a set of cousins. Slimming down may be a good idea when you come from a heritage as big as mine that includes a set of great-great-great-grandparents (Christian and Maria) who had 16 children and 165 grandchildren. Rumor has it they once appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records for this feat. Imagine having 16 children! Then, imagine each of them averaging more than 10 children! Ouch!

My double first cousin, once removed, was my first boss, actually co-boss because I worked for him and his brother, Gene, on their "truck" farm. No, we didn't grow trucks, we grew strawberries, corn and melons. Gene and Russell probably deserve much of the credit, or blame, for the fact that my wife and I now "farm" (using the word loosely and generously) a few acres.

Before long, one of my college math professors squeezed into our group, helping to keep my armpits dry. What do elderly men talk about? Russell passed around a puzzle he had made several years ago. Like the proverbial ship in a bottle, the question for the day was how he had managed to get the little wooden sculpture into a very small-mouthed medicine bottle. Maybe that's what men of their generation have in common, an interest in puzzles. 

When Russell asked if we kept up with politics, John, the man who chased this once-upon-a-time grade-schooler down after he lit a cherry bomb, said something like "not now." That was the end of that, probably a good thing. We turned to sex -- polygamy in the goat world, to be precise. Perhaps a relatively large group of men, even older ones, can never escape penis envy. One fellow mentioned he'd read about a man who'd answered an ad seeking immigrants to a country that allowed polygamy. The guy discovered he should have done a bit more research, returning home disappointed and poorer. The ad had been placed because women needed men to join harems of 20 husbands. 

"Harems?" Virginia mutters from her bed.

For an interesting few minutes, Google "male harem" if you think I used that term wrong.


  1. Now didn't that make you feel young again? Don't you wonder what a young man would think of a conversation held by a group of you and your peers?

  2. mary pannabecker steinerOctober 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Russ pulled that same puzzle on me when I stopped by his table at MC's hobby show. I'll bet you really enjoyed that conversation. It was you, after all, who gave me "Everything you ever wanted to know about sex...."