Signs from Father TimeBill's Briefs, Bottom Highlights Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
Like tree rings, there is no stopping the evidence of the passing years. The first dental bridge, the lengthening belt size, the graying of the sideburns – so distinguished. (Yeah, right!)
The first such sign to shock me occurred in college when a high school student called me “Sir.” At first I was pleased, but then the implication hit home. Did I really look that much older than him? Soon I was no longer carded in the bars. Next came the unfortunate purchase of a wig as reported in a previous column. Suddenly, ancient thirty was closing in faster than it was supposed to. All seniors remember and understand.
As the decades fly by there are advantages of course: higher position at work, desk by the window, more responsibility (power), etc. Often these occur due to seniority not qualification, but no one complains. Trauma and drama continue however: hairlines recede, foreheads wrinkle and jowls sag. Exercise, creams and lotions might fool people for a bit, but those three flights of stairs are still going to exhaust you.
Who can forget that fateful day when the mail contained that welcoming letter from AARP? Alas. the truth be told; 50! With barely time to adjust to being a “Daddy,” it is time for that evening of grim gaiety, the retirement party. It was an unwelcome occasion for me, but then things, as they often do, turned out just fine; I moved to San Diego.
Now, with many friends, activities and a great social life to be thankful for, why this dreary topic? Confession time: the recent ring in my tree stump: a white pubic hair!
Come to my church. It’s the right one
My lack of biblical understanding/belief started when I upset my minister by asking where the wives of Adam and Eve’s sons came from. A long, unfriendly, incomprehensible lecture followed. I got the message and kept silent thereafter, but my curiosity was not extinguished. My spiritual path has been varied and exciting. Years in the Far East have left me with wonderful insights and appreciation of other religions and philosophies, including, surprisingly, the Western perspectives.
I was raised a New England Congregationalist, but ended up teaching at a Catholic university where 90 percent of the students were Buddhists. What an adventure. Religion permeates many of my memories.
A friend called in a panic for advice; he’d just learned his fiancée was a Christian and wanted a church wedding! Since no one had mentioned this before, I opined she just wanted to wear a Western wedding dress. (I was right.) As for being a Christian, I assured him the condition was not contagious.
A Japanese “born again Christian” asked me if the Jesuits I knew had “accepted Christ.” Where to begin?
I amused the nuns by my own ignorance. I called the convent to speak to a sister whose full name I couldn’t remember, but I knew her first name, so I asked for Sister Mary (If you missed the point, ask a Catholic.)
My long suffering office-mate was a Pentecostal Catholic (covering all bases). For years he has tried to save me from the fiery pit, but I continue to resist. I have no label. I explore the array of options, not to convert or even agree, but to understand why people do what they do. I wish more people would do that.
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