Memo to the Kid on the Skateboard

It was nothing, really. I exited the market cautiously – I saw you and your buddies cruising my way on the sidewalk. Nothing breakneck. And then I was gone, and you were again on your way to the next great adventure.

Even though you stopped to let me pass, and I thank you for that, I could see you were annoyed. I was amused, because it was almost like me bumping into me, 55 years ago.

You see, I DO remember the inviolable sense of self that comes of attaining the great age of 10 or so. “Look out, people, can’t you see it’s me coming?”

The thing is, it took me another 10 years to discover everybody else my age felt the same way, and another 10 to figure out why. The cruellest thing my mother ever said to me was, “When you’re my age, you’ll understand.”

By way of returning the favor of not being bumped into, if you are reading this, and you think you might be the kid on that skateboard (or could have been), I want you to make sure you remember this conversation in another 55 years.

That would give you the head start I never gave myself. Some decades ago, I spotted an eldery person walking down the sidewalk on the other side of my street. Today, I even can’t remember for sure whether it was a man or a woman. This senior citizen was dragging one leg along like an alligator that wouldn’t let go.

Of course I wouldn’t have recognized the ravages of a stroke. I was only thirty.

But I do remember what I said: “Holy cow, I’m not EVER getting to be like that!” And I laughed out loud.

I never forgot that moment. If you had bumped into me today, and I had fallen over, it would have been my fault for having learned too late that growing older can be a wonderful experience … but it sure as hell makes you frail.

So, the next time you say, mutter or even think something disrepectful of another just because they’re getting old, it’s really just me getting paid back for my own disrespectfulness.

We didn’t even have skateboards when I was a kid, unless you count metal roller skates nailed to the bottom of a pine 2×4. Today you can select your own deck, trucks, wheels, bearings and hardware. I don’t want to know what your grandkids will be scooting along on in another 50 years. Do you?

From my point of view, fifty years is the big question “where did all that time go?” To you, 50 years is an unfathomable eternity. All you have to remember is that paybacks are hell. In the year 2059, it won’t be my problem. If some kid disrespects you in your old age, and you remember this message, at least you won’t have to say to yourself, “serves me right.”

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