I’ve always liked fairy tales. I made the transition early in second grade to the big kids section at my elementary library. After all, it held the Great Blue Book of fairy tales, The Great Red Book of fairy tales and last but not least in an early fan, the Great Yellow Book of fairy tales.  Whether these are the actual titles, who knows. This was the color of the books that first won my fancy. Nancy Drew was next.

As an adult, I learned fairy tales could have been ways for people to discuss the King and politics of the time without being drawn and quartered for treason. Our Bill of Rights makes us forget that to speak your mind has been more perilous than public condemnation that we risk today.

With a few years under my belt or stretching my belt as happens, I realize some of the characters in fairy tales may have been ordinary people with whom circumstances took its toll. For example trolls, imagine what you would look like if you lived under a bridge. Having a mean nasty temperament would be no stretch for me in those conditions. Cannibalism is disgusting but we know about the Donner party and other tales.

Back to the White Knight, I met him last Friday. He has come in many forms and no he was not a love of my life. He was once again an ordinary person; but, this time I was changed as a result.

Our hot water heater broke and I called the plumber. The plumbing company sent a plumber who diagnosed the problem as a broken thermostat. He replaced the thermostat for $187.50. I know a thermostat costs about $14 retail; but, I considered the cost of a multimeter and they have to pay for gas and their schedule can be erratic. Plus there is the convenience of having hot water within hours and I did not have to learn anything.

He replaced the thermostat. Then he went out to smoke which I thought was unusual. He came back in and held the hotwater outtake pipe as if it was urgent. Then he ran water for a long time at the kitchen sink. He told me one of the elements had burned out. That would cost $140. Being discouraged, I said no. A big part of the estimate was the repair significantly cheaper than having the tank replaced. A new tank installed would be about $500. I was sick about cutting my loses at $187.50. Who has that kind of money to throw around unless you are buying and selling a home. Then you throw thousands around like you are a millionaire.

He made the mistake of telling me he would keep the circuit pulled because the hot water heater would burn up if he put it back in. I knew that did not sound right. I read about replacing an element. That’s when I found out they are replaced along with the thermostat as maintenance.

I go to the big box home improvement store. I ask the guy about the wiring. You’re just completing a circuit. One wire on each post. Two wires and two posts is uncomplicated. Just drain the hot water heater. I bought a multimeter. When I tested the elements they were fine. Still uneasy about the hot water heater burning. I called the man who fixes my well. He gave me the name of a man who was a licensed plumber as well as electrician, HVAC technician and boilermaker. He owned a business with 30 employees.

Like most heroes  he was ordinary. Nice looking but not a GQ kind of guy. Average height, slim and wiry from work, he checked my heater’s circuits. He gave me a short lesson on replacing thermostats and elements. Except for draining the heater for the element replacement, the complicity was on the level of changing a lightbulb.

There was no damage to the hot water heater element. Matter of fact with my new found knowledge, I turned the thermostat down with a screwdriver. I have a developmentally delayed older brother that lives with me. Incredibly hot water is not a good idea with small children or individuals who are challenged.

I offered the man money. He would not take it. It made him sick that I had been overcharged previously. 

It changed me a little. You get so use to the parasites, you forget there are people who are motivated more by money or what directly benefits them. One little irony I have always noticed. So many people like the plumber have nothing. The man who would not take my payment probably does OK money wise. I taught school and did much for children over the years. I worked with others who had a great deal of compassion. I worked with a teacher who took a child to the doctor because of a wound that did not heal. I bought shoes for a child.

What did the plumber look like? An ordinary person. He was quiet like so many children I taught. If he had asked me for the money, I would have gave it to him. I wonder what his commission was. He was so arrogant he left his business card. I realize he assumed I would be stupid and scared. Well I was. There are worse things like greedy and callous. 

 

When you think of aging, you accept it like every other unpleasant thing in life. Most of us realize in the scheme of things, this is not the greatest tragedy. Nevertheless as an older retired woman, I was never prepared to disappear.
Kirstie Alley who still is a beautiful actor stated she would never get plastic surgery. It only makes you look funny. Being born as attractive as she was and aging as well as she has, she can say that with more aplomb than most of us. Getting fat has actually done wonders for her career. Most actors from the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s should be so lucky.
I think one reason actors and regular folks can look worse from plastic surgery is their expectations. Too much of anything is never good. For entertainers, they get surgery so young and maybe their body does not age well with it. What is it with these noses? Have you ever noticed that so many female actors get the same nose job? My nose left behind by some Roman soldier in their conquest of Britannia has served me well.
I have contemplated plastic surgery. My oily skin has given me a few extra years from wrinkles. A little microdermabrasion to take off acne scars that time has not. Honestly, have you ever noticed people look their age. There is no getting around it. I can always tell what decade a person is. However, when you are 70, beauty is only relative. I have a friend in her seventies who has a foxy body for someone in their twenties. I cannot help but tell you how good it makes me feel to see the pink rims of her urinary incontinence pads in the back of her white pants.
My sister’s doctor is a wise country doctor. He will tell you that any of us that live past 50 is lucky. When you make it past 50, you learn you best take care of yourself or you will be pushing up daisies sooner than you think. I was 54 when I got the rude awakening. Luckily, one was a false alarm, the other I control with diet and exercise.
You cannot cheat time. I have reluctantly started to color my hair. Born with brown hair so dark it had a glint of red and almost looked black. I pulled out the first gray hairs. Having thin hair, I had to stop that. Once your hair crosses that 50% threshold of gray, you have to let it be gray for a while. The remaining dark hair also lightens which adds insult to injury. Having retired, I have let my hair grow since I have a little more time. You need to go lighter so I currently have a blond bob, which I had noticed older women sometimes wore.
When I exercise in my water aerobics class, you can spot all the fake hair colors. We color our hair and sometimes we look cooler. Sometimes, gals look like they have the fur of a synthetic tabby cat. Hey, it is all good. Especially since we all look our decade. I will say, some look better than others, just like middle school.
Now if you will notice, I am only describing women. Men are left out for a reason. They look so damn good with a touch of gray and a few wrinkles. In reality, they do not age as well as us. There was a good-looking young man I saw the other day. He was in his forties. However, he was getting that barrel chest men can get as they get older. All that black hair and blue eyes going to waste. Once men get about 60, they are in the same boat we chicks are in.
When we think about aging, we focus on appearances. Appearances are all we have at times. I think the most serious sign of aging is how we think. In our prime, we constantly adjust to the folks around us. That flexibility with others is key. We called it being “laidback” when I was young. I think that is the first thing we can lose if we are not careful.
We lose our flexibility, as we grow older because oftentimes we have to set boundaries with people we care about and work with. Your child wants that toy for whatever new toy collection they advertise and you step back and say, “You’ll have to buy it with your own money.” You can buy them that toy but you know you have to let them have some ambition. We lose our flexibility anytime we find ourselves managing people in the workplace. There is a good side to standing your ground. The bad side is insisting that we are the only ones who can make the right decision.
You cannot control your biology. You can exercise and eat right to maintain better health. You can choose how your mind works. You can keep your mind open to new ideas. Tolerate and be graceful when you encounter someone having a blowhard moment (We all do.) I do not like learning new things. I would like everything to be easy and just come my way.
It is all these little irritations and distractions that keep me in the game of life. When I no longer have to balance my household budget with what I want, when I no longer have to get up at 6 am to take care of someone else, when I no longer have to think about whom I want to vote for president, and a myriad of other items, I will then be old. My body may age, but I am going to do my best to keep my outlook young.

My dad would talk to my older brother about not getting into fights. After a terrible battle during World War II, my dad and other soldiers marched through France with the worst was over for the present. A small rock fell down a mountain side and hit one of the soldiers on the head. He died. He would remind my brother that people need to be careful striking one another. The human body was much more fragile than my 130 pound, 6 foot two brother could fathom. In a year, my brother would weigh ten pounds more and his lanky frame would be that of another grunt in the American Army fighting in Southeast Asia. I was spared the talk since I was a girl. My special talk from my dad was on tact. My dad understood adolescent trash talk was another form of sparing. As a middle school teacher, I never really accomplished settling preteen spats. One of Checker's pups died the other night. Victim of an inexperienced and overzealous mother. It was a small wound that probably cut a blood vessel in the leg. As I held the pretty body, Checkers lip quivered. What powers our pets must feel we possess. I took the small body out of the nesting box as Checkers ate her meal. Returning from a nice walk, Checkers went to her kennel and checked over her brood. Checkers periodically searched the house for her missing pup. The 14 day old puppies have begun to tussle. Standing on weak wobbly legs, they make vigorous wrestling moves before they collapse in a bundle to sleep. Life is fragile.

Two friends from the country swore they heard an owl during the day.   I heard the soft coo of a mourning dove. The coo of a mourning dove does sound similar to hoot of a barn owl.

What are some legends you have heard about owls?

What happened to Val Kilmer?   Apparently growing older and losing the battle of the bulge is not understood.   These critics are like some women in the gym with thighs as big as your ass who gives you a lecture about how to diet.

Since when are people not at the zenith of their career failures.  Just to be a flash in the pan is more than some talented people ever got.   Andy Warhol said everyone will get 15 minutes of fame.  For me, it was the laughter of children in my classroom. Bob Hope sustained a lifelong career.  Sometimes people get the opportunity of a lifetime and complain.   Not every actor gets to play Othello.  Othello would not be that special if they did.

People show up as extras and are sent home with the minimum pay for that day.  They tolerate whatever comes along in hopes of a better opportunity. The entertainment industry heart of stone profit is based on its commercial successes.   Sentimentality does not get in the way of the product. Today’s star is replaced with someone new. A soap opera takes precedence over an art film.

The golden boys and girls of the media face the same issues of us all.   The glamour of their lives is the result of promotion.    The Paris Hilton who was paid to come to nightclubs and parties can’t get her picture taken at a film festival today.   There was no substance just promotion. This is why the millionaire next door drives a beat-up used car.

After 50, you are lucky to be still living. That is what is so special about youth.   It is every individuals golden age.  Val Kilmer is no longer a twenty something Adonis but he can still act.