“So,” said Perry Silver, my dentist, looking at the chart. “You’re 76.”
“And so how do you feel compared to when you were 66?”
“Uh . . . better.”
Of course there were laughs. I like to make people laugh, or at least smile, but it was, on reflection, more or less true. I’m feeling fine and having fun, as I used to write in letters home from camp. For the moment, that is. You always have to say that as you age. Or perhaps you always have to say that but don’t bother to when the world’s your oyster. I’m still batting ideas back and forth with Mary, still batting tennis balls back and forth at East Hampton Indoor, and still batting 1.000 when it comes to shirking responsibility.
“You were an only child — at least before your mother remarried,” Mary says to me. “So who else was there to look at when you’d say, after something got broken, ‘Don’t look at me.’ ”
“I don’t know. Don’t look at me.”
I did act semi-responsibly recently, agreeing to assume a fiduciary role in my sister’s behalf — but only after having been assured I would almost never be called upon to act responsibly. “I’ll sign, then,” I said, in a sober tone that I summon up whenever trying to come across as a responsible member of society, as a grown-up in brief.
So far, I’ve sidestepped the types of burdens that tend to weigh one down, which is why I find it odd that I hunch. Mary’s mother, who rather liked it that I had no ambition whatsoever — at least as the world defines it — was concerned about the hunching, though. Hunching, to her, was a sign of decline, of giving in. And so, having accepted her as my personal savior, I’ve been dutifully strengthening my shoulders and back for the past several years, which has done wonders for my tennis game, but has not entirely eliminated the hunching. Whenever Mary cautions me to stand up straight, my stomach sticks out.
Caroline Cashin told me to lie back on the floor the other day at Truth Training, and, in truth, because of my crane-like neck, I could not. So now I’m trying to fix that too.
I’m trying, I’m trying. Trying to step up to the plate responsibility-wise, trying to stand erect, trying to strengthen my core, trying to lie flat on my back. . . .
Though perhaps I ought not get too comfortable in that position.