We name a number. It’s how old coots respond (to each other) when asked, “How are you doing?” We don’t go into detail about our current ailments. We just state a number that corresponds to the number of issues we’re dealing with at the moment. We’ve retired the age-old and over used replies – Not bad – Not so hot – OK. Our response is usually in the three to four range. I hit six one day last December. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but sometimes the collective number of minor ailments we deal with makes us preoccupied with our state of health, even more self-possessed than normal.
Responding with a “six” was a kindness to the, “How you doing?” asker. Better than running through my list at the time – a tender arthritic knuckle on my left index finger – an achy left knee (my good one) – a cold coming on – a nagging low level tooth ache, that may or may not go away – a bad haircut (something more upsetting than you might think, especially when the cutter did exactly what I’d asked for) – and lastly, a zit in the middle of my forehead, that apparently had been lying in wait for 60 years before making its debut.
It doesn’t take much to get your number up there. Start with a sore back, a common ailment that old coots are well versed in. Throw in a leg that keeps cramping up, stub a toe, add a dash of vertigo and you have a recipe that gets you off and running. The magic number is 10. That’s when you start engaging the worst of your grouchy, old crab persona. Fortunately, it usually only takes a day or two before you get used to it, or USED OF IT, as my son used to say when he was a toddler, bumping around the house and racking up a stack of numbers himself.
Women, I’ve noticed, don’t play the numbers game. They don’t keep track and add them up, they just deal with whatever number of ailments they face and make us look bad. Yet, society refers to them as the weaker sex. What a lie. If I wasn’t crabbing about hitting the “5” I’m dealing with today, I’d expand on the issue and help my gender understand the truth, that WE, are the weaker sex. Not even strong enough to admit it. It’s that often quoted saying, “If men had the babies, every kid would be an only child.
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