Buster was nosing through my things and found one of the many watches I no longer wear because the battery died and I didn’t get around to replacing it. I’ve collected several watches over the years. They sit in a box with their dead batteries. It’s my way of holding back time.
Buster showed me the watch. “Look. I found and old, old, old, old, old, old watch. It used to be yours when you were a kid.”
That means I’m one or two olds older than the watch. It’s true, I’m old. I’m 50, which isn’t old in general terms, but it is old for the parent of a kindergartner. When Big Man gets to kindergarten I’ll be two years older.
To Buster: The abridged story of my relative elderliness
Yes, Buster, I am old, compared to your classmates’ fathers. It’s not the way I planned it. You see, I was supposed to marry my high school sweetheart. Only, I didn’t have a high school sweetheart. The best I could do was a high school crush. It’s considerably more awkward to marry your high school crush. Unlike all the romance you’ve projected onto her from afar, a marriage is something that both parties should be aware of.
Then, I was supposed to marry that wonderful girl I met in college. But you see, Buster, I was too focused on my studies in the field of beerology to go around falling in love. There was that one potentially wonderful girl who might have turned my head, but she was either less wonderful than I thought, or she spent every single Friday and Saturday night washing her hair. It was probably the latter, because one night I saw her walking arm in arm with a frat boy, and he looked like he knew a lot about conditioner.
But that was okay, Buster, because once I made a name for myself, it would be easy to find a wife. Turns out it’s harder than you might think to make a name for yourself in retail management. Plus, when you hit your late 20s, all the college kids who work for you think you’re over the hill. And when you assign them to clean the store’s bathrooms, they think you’re horribly old – like wicked stepmother old.
Then I got to my 30s and it got harder to meet people, including people to marry.
But here’s the good news, Buster. One day in my middle 30s, your mother came along and everything fell into place. It took a while to convince her where everything’s place was, but it worked out perfectly in the end, because now I have her, and you, and your brothers in my life.
See, Buster, if I’d married according to the plan, you wouldn’t be you. You’d be somebody else, or no one at all. I wouldn’t like that. I waited a long time for Mommy and you kids, and maybe that makes me a little old, but it was worth the wait. You’ll never find a man more satisfied at being old.