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” I have a weak back,” I said.
“Since when?” she asked.
“About a week back.” I answered gleefully, delivering the punchline.

As an ungracefully aging man, I have come to accept the realities that dumb things happen while doing non-dumb stuff. Give us an example, you say?

While drying off after a shower, I reached just the wrong way, causing every nerve along my lower back to burst into a chorus of something in the key of F*#@!

A simple twist led to over a week of decreased mobility, a glaring reminder of how quickly normalcy can be replaced by dependency. I don’t do a good job of maintaining a civil tongue when in pain or otherwise compromised. My behavior, I am told, often falls squarely between Hickory and Dock. My sometimes colorful exclamations garner some shocked looks and, “Oh, you’re from New York” comments from my California neighbors. Sorry, New York, it can’t be helped.

Baby Steps

After a couple of immobile days, I decided it would be all right to accompany my bride on a quick trip into town, where we did the traditional circling of the post office followed by the always exciting Cookie Crock dash. Fifteen or so minutes of sitting in the car did my back no favors. As I struggled to wiggle /squirm /heave myself upright while keeping the car door from slamming into my shins, I felt the old familiar kettle start to boil. My already-confessed short fuse, combined with the re-aggravated back, caused me another round of jerkery.

“It hurts when I go like that.”
“So, don’t go like that.”

We had pre-determined that we would refill a handful of the plastic water bottles that had piled up in the trunk. This chore, which I usually handle alone, became a bit of a team sport. My wife was being super-efficient, scrubbing every surface within the refill zone with a disinfecting wipe. I just wanted to get the job done in my usual way, which generally involves an elbow, two hands, a couple of pockets to hold the bottle caps, and a boatload of coins to feed the beast. I suppose, in hindsight, I could have explained my method before we started, but I have it on good authority that my style of explanation often elevates me to a second level of obnoxious. Plus, you know, my back hurt.

ANYWAY – things quickly became undone, with bottles in the wrong places, caps falling to the ground, and me not having a boatload of coins. The saint had a few, plus a couple of singles that could be fed into the machine. Rather than being pleased that she was so well prepared, I kicked it up a notch, from jerkery to total hole-ness, snapping “give me the money.”


As I turned away, I noticed two young ladies nearing the store entrance. They stopped and stared, slightly alarmed at the sight of a masked, cranky old guy snarling “give me the money” at a genteel, grey-haired woman holding a change purse and an empty plastic bag. We continued filling the bottles, and I didn’t give a second thought to the poor girls who possibly thought they were witnessing some type of street crime. It was only later, having moved from cranky to mortified, did I reflect on what went down at water world. 

Mea Culprit

So, to the two young ladies, and anyone else who may have witnessed my whiny, irrational, presidential-level hissy fit – I apologize. But you know, my back hurt…


I saw stars.