Friday, May 22, 2009

The Name's Prufrock...

I am sooooo predictable.

Up in the morning at 5:13. Why the odd time? It gives me a minute to rouse myself enough to find the TV remote, switch on the television, and select channel 958 in time for 5:14, which is when 680 News recaps the top three things that dared to happen while I was asleep before launching into the sportscast at 5:15.
As soon as the sportscast is over, I roll out of bed, hop in the shower and set it to "parboil"...and then usually just stand there, bovine-like, for what always seems to be eleven minutes exactly. Then I'm out in time to catch the weather forecast and a little more in-depth reportage on those pesky news items while I get dressed. Then I'm downstairs for two cups of coffee (and I'm given to understand the unit of measure called a "cup" bears no resemblance whatsoever to an actual cup of coffee). And so on and so forth. I can even set my bowels by the freakin' clock.

My day proceeds as if on rails, and anything getting in the way of the routine is slightly (or not so slightly) resented. Oh, I don't have least, I don't think I do.

('s like OCD, but the letters are in alphabetical order. As they SHOULD be.)

But what the hell is wrong with me?

I think it's just that I'm old before my time. I've been old since about age six, but it's getting ridiculous now. There is no hour too early at which to eat supper, for instance. I like having dinner out of the way by 5:00 or 5:30...more time to relax and let the food digest before bedtime. If circumstances force dinner at 6:30 or God forbid later, it's a sure bet I won't be having breakfast the next morning, on account of still being full.

Usually, this kind of thing doesn't bother me. As the sweet potato philosopher once expostulated, I yam who I yam. Sometimes, though, I wish I could inject some spontaneity into what I'm sure everyone around me thinks is boredom to the power of twiddledythumbs...but I don't know how. The best I seem to be capable of is to mix up the routine a bit--shuffling the deck chairs on the geriatric cruise ship. Shove something entirely new into life's equation and I'm apt to kack on the calculation.

That's when the rip in my mind surfaces...the child-rent. On one side of the tear, I'm happily adaptable, having learned very quickly under the tutelage of a squalling baby that the only constant in life is change. In that sense, I can understand what people mean when they say "children complete me". And I really do believe it could have turned out that way for would grant me a second chance at childhood, which I'd gladly take without trying to steal theirs.

On the other side, I never got over resenting the chaos and it turned me ugly. That's not something I like to contemplate for long, but if I'm honest with myself I have to admit it's just as likely to have turned out that way. My stomach churns every time I see a child misbehaving (which, given that I work where I do, is fairly often). I was nobody's perfect little angel when I was young, but the kind of tantrums I see today were nipped right in the bud thirty years ago, let me tell you. Those of us of a certain age can remember "stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about!" That threat usually worked with me. I'd like to think it wasn't just because of the implied spanking, but also because what I was crying about wasn't really worth crying about. I'n not sure my reasoning was up to that level so young, but I wouldn't put it past myself.

Anyway, the old crotchety geezer in me does look back at growing up the seventies with a species of reverent nostalgia. Life was simpler then. Of course, life's always simpler for the child than it is for the adult. But life in general was simpler then, for everybody. The change curve was still fairly linear. These days change is almost beyond exponential, to the point where things I can't even imagine one month are commonplace a few months later. I think I've adopted my strict routine as a kind of defense against what I perceive to be revolutionary change in society.

I've heard all my life that change is good. All my life I've chafed against the implacable way people say that, and noticed the "good" change they go on and on about is, more often than not, change for change's sake alone. I'm not too keen on that. I'm of the firm opinion that if something ain't broke, why break it?

I sympathize with conservatives, because I can deeply understand their fear and distrust of change. I feel it myself, and often. It can be a hard thing to work through. But I like to think that in the working through, I grow a little.

But sometimes, oh, sometimes, I flash back to the poem I took every...single...year in high school, thanks to three moves and a curriculum change. I loved this poem more with each successive reading. Something in it resonated, and still does. An excerpt:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot

1 comment:

Rocketstar said...

"('s like OCD, but the letters are in alphabetical order. As they SHOULD be.)"

But Complusive Disorder Obsessive?

Change is that which forces us to deviate from a comfortable course, I rather try to avoid it.