The Old Coot gets questioned

“Are you still?” It’s the start of a question that old coots like me are asked with greater frequency, as the flames on their birthday cakes resemble a towering inferno. Are you still driving? –   Are you still in your house? Are you still riding your bike? Are you still? Are you still? Are you still? We can’t escape it! Underlying the question is, “I can’t believe you’re still alive!” 

We do get the actual question every once in a while, “Are you still alive? I thought you were dead.” Sometimes followed by, “So glad to see you’re still around.” It’s not so bad, if they haven’t seen you for years, but if they just saw you last month, or worse, last week, you start wondering, “How bad do I really look?” (At least they were glad to see me. Or, so they say.)

Old coots aren’t the only ones under siege from, “Are you still?” questions. Expectant mothers in their last trimester can attest to that. “Are you still carrying that kid around?” (It looks like you’re having triplets.) Young adults get the, “Are you still?” business too. “Are you still living at home?” – “Are you still unmarried?” –  “Are you still unemployed?” (Unspoken, is the judgment, “When are you going to get a life?”)

Whenever I’m asked an, “Are you still?” question, I go home and look in the mirror. Really look. Not one of those quick glances where the memory of a younger me obscures the reality of the old man’s face reflected back from the glass. But, I get over the stark reality of truth soon enough, just like I get over the, “I love your articles; are you still writing them?” – “Sure,” I respond, and then go and check the paper the first chance I get to see if I really am. The last time I looked, I was. Now comes the harder question, “Is anybody reading them?”

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