But before we step into the elderly arena, let's meet our contestants shall we? For legal reasons lets just call them Tom and Jerry. Both Tom and Jerry come in on a regular basis and boast of their age. Without fail, the question "How many 95 year old guys do you know that still have all their teeth and a full head of hair?" is asked by Tom at least twice at every appointment. Jerry on the other hand comes in asking "Am I the oldest one here? How many 93 year olds do you know that can do as much [working out] as I do?" After about the 908th time I've been asked these questions I started giving them different answers each time. "Well, I can name about 5, Jerry." Jerry's best reply was, "Yeah and I can name about 5 fingers that's about to shut your lying mouth." (Now since I know everyone is just super worried about my safety, I'll let you know all this is in jest. Though, I wouldn't want to cross the guy. I've seen him workout. His tripod cane looks like some serious business also). Tom wields a similar humor. I once answered "Well, does your mother count?" to his "How many guys do you know with hair and teeth" question and he laughed hysterically. Hold on to this. This comes into play again later in this blog.
So now you understand my excitement. The two of them were smiling, looking around ,talking with their respective PTs just fine. Then inevitability hits. The two PT's move out of the way. Eye contact is established. I have now moved a sofa into the clinic and am sitting on the opposite side of the room with freshly popped popcorn and my 3D glasses watching on. Their smiles instantly drop. Their backs straighten up. They are now staring at each other like a couple of cats on opposite ends of an ally. Really old cats. Really old cats with guns. Really old cats with guns at high noon.
To compare between the sexes, we have older lady patients meet all the time for the first time. They talk about how pretty each others hair looks, or where they got that cute bag, and "Oh how I just LOVE your nails!" And then there are guys.
"How old is that guy... HEY HOW OLD ARE YOU?!" Tom asks.
"What'd that guy say?"
Seeing this going nowhere fast I stepped in to interpret, "He just said something about your mama, Jerry." Ok, no I didn't say that. Almost... "He asked how old you are."
Jerry: "Yeah? Well how old are you?"
Tom: "What's it to you?
Jerry: "Don't you worry about that"
Tom: "I'm 95 years old. Beat that grandma" (Yes he did just call him grandMA. You read that right.)
With a defeated look Jerry answered under his breath, "Well sonofab****, Im only 93"
Tom: "What'd he say?"
Jerry: "Is he still talking?"
This low key banter when on for awhile with the more than occasional "huh?" "what?" which made it that much funnier to watch. Then the exercises started. There were the occasional "You aren't doing that exercise right there chief" and the "Faster grandma lets go" and then magic happened.
Tom: "Get that leg up higher you old fool!"
Jerry: "At your age, that's the ONLY thing you can get up now, you old bag!"
Tom: "That's not what your mother told me."
I thought to myself, who taught this guy mama jokes?! Well... Remember that little comment I made earlier? The one I told you to remember? Yeah, it was me. I looked at the PTs, the PTs looked at the patients, Tom sat their smiling like a child who just finger-painted their first dinosaur picture.
Jerry, clearly impressed with the quick escalation of verbal abuse, looked over at me like:
And here I am like:
And Tom is still sitting there like:
Seeing this reaction, I do believe with one fell swoop of matriarchal dishonoring, these two ornery aged guys straight out of "Grumpy Old Men" just became best friends.
As their session comes to a close, Tom and Jerry walk up to each other:
"My friends call me Tom"
"My friends call me 'Jacquomo Tortello Dominico Fedicco Baccegalupo." (He was purposely being a turd)
"Yeah? Well see you around Denise"
And out they walked both with smiles on their faces. The rhythmic "Huh?!" or "I can't hear you" was still heard as they shuffled out the door."
This last part is a little sweeter than you realize. Jerry will break down and cry every now and then. While taking out an old worn black and white picture of his late wife. He talks of his beautiful lady and how he misses her so like she died just yesterday. She has been dead for 8 years now. Not able to have children, he is now living alone by himself. He shows up to PT 2 or sometimes 3 hours early, I assume, just to converse with people. He is quick as a whip and brightens my day every time he comes in. Now, instead of asking where all the cute receptionists are, he asks for Tom.
Tom was in a similar situation for awhile. He then found a woman and married her 15 years ago. Tom told me when he married her at the age of 85 he promised her 20 years. And you know what? He may just make that promise. He is a strong guy, and not just for a 95 year old --oh and did he mention he has a full head of hair and all his teeth? Remember: full head of hair and all his teeth. He too asks for Jerry.
Tom and Jerry met a few more times and each time ended with a handshake, a pat on the back, and a smile. You can never be too old to touch or be touched by someone's life.
Tom is no longer a patient there but made sure to tell me with all sincerity "I always thoroughly enjoyed working with you. When you become a doctor, I would count myself blessed if I was under your care. No really, Tim, I mean it." I hope to some day be worthy of such a compliment.
So at the end of this blog, I raise my glass to feisty old people, smack talk, mama jokes, friendship, and confirmation that I may just be heading in the right direction.