(Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)
This then was the economic pressure that weighed on my conscience as I debated what should be done to maintain my presence in the pages of the newspapers. Naturally, it had already occurred to me that more people watched television than read the newspapers, but I did not know any reporters at the local TV stations. That was, in fact, one more plus for the idea of having naked authors sitting in our window (even if I could slip such a conceit between the covers of the First Amendment by having them busily writing while they displayed the ravages of time on their sagging carcasses). Sort of the way the prostitutes do in Amsterdam. A Dutch treat. Without the sugar glaze.
Getting old in this republic, or any republic perhaps, is not often a satisfying turn of events. I cannot lift the boxes I once hoisted without thought. I have had to hire extra part-time help to keep the store open the usual hours because I often get tired before I turn the key in the door at night. This, by itself, is a major disappointment to me. A palpable dispiriting. I was sure that I had at least another ten years in me. Now I am not so confident. But them’s the breaks.
For many people growing old becomes a constant accounting of past mistakes. There are no ‘do overs’ in real life, so there is usually much to regret. This is a regular theme among the small cast of characters I hang out with, most of them aging friends. ‘Don’t get old.’ is the refrain. My rejoinder is always, “Except for the unfortunate fact that the alternative is worse.’
Whenever one or another of them finally does chose the alternative, and shuffles off this mortal coil, you always hear something along the lines of, ‘He died too young. She was just getting her act together. He’d started writing another book and was all excited over the prospects. She thought this was the one. Now, he’ll never know what dreams may come.’
I will argue with almost anything, just for the entertainment value, but I seldom disagree with these sentiments. It would sound gratuitous. Self-serving. That’s because I’ve always done just what I wanted to do in life. My regrets, if any, are for my unlived future. What dreams may not come to me. My regrets taken in advance. (You don’t get the chance to do that after your dead, right?) I don’t know how many more books are left in me to write, and half the time I end up composing something new that I did not expect to get hung-up on before the fact, and this only puts off the other ideas I was playing with for that much longer. So I do regret for now all the stories I’ve made notes for that I will never complete.