Thursday, May 04, 2006

Y0uN6 @ <3

Spotted during my annual pilgrimage to that American shrine dedicated to cholesterol, obesity, and chronic heart failure, KFC: an elderly Asian gentleman - short, stooped with age, hair thin and white, face sagging and dotted with liver spots - bouncing a rubber Superball off the floor, a Powerpuff Girl doll dangling off the keychain in his other hand.

[Buttercup, if you care which one.]

Now, there are plenty of explanations why he was bouncing a Superball and holding onto a PPG doll. Maybe the ball is a gift for a grandchild. Maybe the doll was a gift to him or the keys aren't his. Maybe he's just a senile old coot, shuffling through the local KFC.

But somehow, I prefer to believe this frail-looking old man can still find fun in bouncing a rubber ball and watching cartoons.

Like most people my age or younger, I prefer not to think about what I'll be like when I'm that old. There's the belief - justly or not - that one's youth is the "fun" time in your life. That by the time you're old and gray and retired, the best you can hope for is "relaxing."

Which is better than "incontinent and senile," certainly. Still, not the sort of thing one usually daydreams about.

I have a lot of interests and hobbies most people would consider childish: videogames, animation, comic books, scifi - you name it, it's something someone somewhere expects me to "outgrow" and wonders why I haven't yet. And while I don't feel particularly inclined to defend my hobbies - what, like watching NASCAR is a more intellectually stimulating use of my time than playing Half-life? - I do sometimes wonder if I will, in fact, someday lose interest in all the pasttimes which have kept me engaged since I was a wee lad.

So there is something comforting about the notion of being a wizened old man who can still find joy in the simpler things in life. That even late in life, I'll still be rockin' out with my neurally implanted videogames...and probably bemoaning the good ol' days of joysticks and gamepads.

Growing old is easy: go without dying long enough and it happens to any of us. Not everyone grows up, however.

And thank goodness for that.

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