I’m 84. When I was a little boy, my 84-year-old neighbors were born before the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and some could even remember the start of our last Civil War. How often have you stopped to realize that the 1850’s were only two lifetimes away?

We can no longer ask our old neighbors about the first time they saw a car or an electric lightbulb, and have to get what we can from their books, letters and diaries. A memorable letter, penned way back then by one of my relatives named Watts, referred to Lincoln as a “pumpkin head.” He was not popular in this town.

Today we’ll talk about the advantages of being 84 and some of the things that go through the mind of an octogenarian.

When you are 64, if you feel a small bug crawling across the back of your hand, you slap it with your other hand.

When you are 84 and feel a small bug crawling across the back of your hand, you can simply ignore it because there is no bug there.

I read that there is a choreographer who wants to empower a new generation with new and daring dance maneuvers that express your most confident self. You know that I am the last person to boast and brag about his abilities, but my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, will tell you that I am no slouch when it comes to creating maneuvers that express my most confident self. Luckily for you, I am willing to go out of my way to share my results of decades of research.

For best results you start standing up with both feet planted firmly on the living room floor. Throw back your shoulders and take in six empowering breaths through your nose as you move resolutely toward your favorite reclining chair. Sit. Close your eyes, lean back and try to remember what it was like to be able to run.

You know me well enough to know that before I can tell you something about an elderly friend who just got his first cellphone, it is necessary to first tell you something else. Did you realize that the definition of an elderly person changes from year to year? When I was 15, anyone 27 years old was teetering on the cusp of senility. If I lived to be 27 I figured that I’d be rich by then and could spend my days smoking a pipe or dozing in a comfortable rocking chair. Nowadays you might define an elderly person as an individual who does not preface every remark with “like.”

Anyway, my friend was badgered into getting a cellphone by his grandson, an M.D. who bought it and spent two days teaching him how to make a call in case he needed help. My friend is annoyed that, because of the pandemic, he can no longer attend lodge meetings. There is nothing he would enjoy more than hearing his phone ring during the meeting so that everyone there would know that he is right in there with the new technology.

We often talk about the mistakes young boys make because I can testify from firsthand experience. But young girls are also prone to error. A woman close to 80, who outlived her first husband and then married a lawyer, is showing signs of mild decay, like the Wonderful One-Hoss Shay, and now requires a bit of medical attention. She recently told me that she lived her life backward. When she was young and healthy, she was married to a doctor.

Have you discovered that your taste buds have changed over the years? Eighty years ago I didn’t like scrambled eggs. Of course everyone’s taste buds differ, and when you see some people eat you must wonder if their taste buds have been shot up with Novocain. They are lucky, because they can eat anything. Some of us, who are unfortunate enough to have taste buds capable of discrimination, find that too much of the food in this unkind world tastes bad. How often I have wished that I could take out my taste buds and beat the discrimination out of them with a stick. I can’t imagine what a joy it would be to have numb or indifferent taste buds that could enjoy or even tolerate Thai, Chinese, Mexican or English food – with a Big Mac for dessert. Oh, and a cast-iron gut that would digest it.

Not wanting to miss out on any aspect of a completely lived life, I once walked into the kitchen and said to my wife, Marsha, “Let’s fight to see what it’s like.” What do you think she said? “I don’t have time.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: