Last month I had to buy a new clothes washer. I came home from work one Friday and dropped my casual dress shirts into the washer, as I did at the end of every work week. After a few minutes I realized the washer had stopped. In fact, after it filled with water, it had grown surprisingly silent. The thing banged a lot when in action. But when I checked on it, I was stunned to find it still filled with water. No amount of manipulation – which, for the mechanically-challenged such as myself – meant yanking on the knob (as if I was in the midst of a raucous masturbatory session) and smacking it (again, as if in the midst of a raucous masturbatory session). Aren’t you glad you decided to read something today?!
All of that was to no avail. So I removed the shirts and squeezed out the water and searched online for a repair place. I found one, but they couldn’t fix it. I paid their fee – and never heard from them again. I filed a fraud complaint with my bank, which gave me provisional credit. But they ultimately decided I was hysterical and reversed the credit.
I was forced to get a new washer – and change banks. I realized the obvious: my 10-year-old clothes washer had decided to give up on me (at the financially worst time!) and I had to get a new one. My long-time good friend, Raymond*, came in from out of town shortly after that. He was here when I bought a new washer through Overstock and here at the house when it arrived. It turned out to be much smaller than anticipated – suitable more for a dorm room or efficiency apartment than a hyper-clean single man living alone in a 3-bedroom house – so I was forced to return it.
I then purchased a fuller-size washer and had it delivered. Before Raymond returned home, he helped me disconnect and move the deceased appliance into the garage. I had to empty out the bulk of the water by hand. We both laughed afterwards, as I championed the fact two 50-something fuckers like us could move a massive appliance across several feet and through two doorways. Personally, it was the most exercise I’d had in months!
Not long afterwards, Raymond encountered his own appliance-related fiasco. His aging refrigerator had started causing him problems. He was able to get it repaired, but it was still an unsettling prospect for him. His health problems seriously impact his personal finances, and in the wealthiest country on Earth, people in his condition have to budget tightly.
The image at top is from a series of text messages between Raymond and me as he lamented his refrigerator ordeal. I couldn’t help but laugh loudly and told as many people as possible; people who are roughly our age.
At 15, my truck is showing its age. The engine light keeps illuminating, and a headlight recently went out. But it’s still operating relatively well! Other things in and around my house are also becoming problematic. My father had a fetish for scented candles, until I finally convinced him they were damaging the walls and ceilings with soot. The kitchen sink had been causing trouble years ago – long before either of my parents passed away. The water heater is leaking slowly. My iron (my mother’s iron actually) committed suicide a few months ago in mid-session. The roof has a number of openings, which allow squirrels and other small invasive varmints to enter and hide. Their rumblings in the attic make me recall the mythical rat problem in “The Exorcist”.
Years ago my mother would tell me that life begins at 40; a rather common saying at the time. She had just turned 40 when we moved into this suburban house in December of 1972. Shortly after I turned 40 in 2003, I came down with the flu for the first time in my entire life. The following April, I severely sprained my left ankle while walking my dog. It had rotated as far as it could go without breaking. I ended up on crutches and taking time off from work. About 5 months before I turned 50 in 2013, I had a freak accident here at the house that severely damaged my right arm and landed me in the hospital for a few days. If I had been alone, I probably would have bled to death.
It seems the start of every decade of my life coincides with something bad. In the two months before I turned 30 in 1993, one of my closest friends died, and I contracted Hepatitis A that culminated in a hospital stay and nearly two months off from work. Therefore, I’m not eager to see what awaits me come my 60th birthday – if I’m fortunate enough to make it that far.
A couple of months ago I was looking into one of my eyes in the mirror when I noticed a bruise on the outside of my left forearm, close to the elbow. It immediately drew my attention for one simple reason – I have no idea how the damn thing got there! And I grew alarmed. Occasionally my parents would end up with miscellaneous bruises; marks with an unknown cause. It made me recall an even more unsettling incident from more than two decades ago.
I worked for a bank in Dallas, dealing with high-dollar clientele. Many of my customers were elderly. I was on the phone with a gentleman one afternoon when he halted the conversation and began mumbling. I asked if he was alright. He then noted rather casually – almost too casually – that he was bleeding and didn’t know from where. A colleague passing by my desk at that moment noticed my eyebrows pop upward in shock. I asked the man if I needed to call someone for him, as in 911. He said no, that he’d be alright.
Of course, a bruise is nowhere as serious as blood. But I’m still wondering if I’m now at that point in time – the age where my body is subtly telling me it wants to lead a life of its own. I’m not ready to let the bastard go yet! Yes, I’m a writer, but I don’t want to melt down into a fat, grouchy curmudgeon surrounded by books and bottles of wine and vodka! If you knew my present lifestyle, it may seem that way, but no one asked you!
Raymond turned 59 last month, and I told him I’m actually looking forward to turning 60 in two years. I also told him something even more significant – we will age and mature, indeed, but we will never get “old”. I certainly don’t intend to let myself reach that point. Raymond has been through a lot in his life. Just half the crap he’s endured would send most people into therapy or a talk show. And I’m still here for a reason, too.
Broken clothes washers or not, I’ll go on until my power system decides it’s had enough. In the meantime, I’m still on the lookout for anymore rogue bruises.