Growing Older

When everyday acts become a major production, I remember this dream scene: An elderly man goes to his neurologist for…well, a bathroom problem.  The neurologist’s assistant, a young, fresh-faced practical nurse with a sincere, girlish grin hands him a stack of medical history forms and questionnaires about the “problem.”  The old man is standing in line outside the men’s room, which is adjacent to a fully occupied waiting room.


His Parkinson’s disease makes writing difficult, so his wife reads the questions and writes down the answers.


She is hard of hearing; he reads the questions to her in a very loud voice.


The answers reveal intimate things about his GI track that no man would ever tell his wife unless under oath, and even then, he should probably lie, or keep them to himself to save both of them the embarrassment.  Anyway and in every way, he tells her at just about the same time as he tells everyone else in the waiting room.


The dream has a bedroom scene.


“Wake up.  I need help going to the john.”


“What?  Oh.  By the way, I had a dream about a table and someone was saying….


“I’ve heard the story already.  I really got to go.  Got to go, now.”


She slips the covers off his body and swings his legs out of the bed, then she takes both of her hands and staggers backwards towards the chair that’s near the window alongside the bed, while he, hanging on, staggers forward.  It’s the dance of the “left footed” and fun to choreograph, but, of course, the full frontal nudity will have to be negotiated with the dream editor.


The director, however, wants dozens of photographs of them coming out of the medical building.  Holding hands lovingly…desperately.  He’ll loose his balance and sway in concentric circles.  Loves embers grow.  It might be fun to cut there and let them swirl forever.


The chase scene is next and inevitable, but it’s different.  This time in the chase the elderly man and woman obey all the rules, moving sedately, if not modestly as long lines of cars and motorcycles, trucks and buses weave in and out, trying to pass the mature drivers.  They are not aware that they’re leading a small, horn-blowing parade of younger people who are racing to get where the Golden Oldies have already been.  No need to hurry, they think.  They enjoy the scenery, exchange the memories, turn off at the restaurant, turn back on the highway, and are surprised at the symphony of horns following them.


Of course, there has to be conflict between husband and wife who has brought home the wrong texture of peanut butter.  The trick is that anger is expressed by silence.  No dialogue, just a straight shot of the mouth, a hand shaking, a quick turn of the head, and the scene fades.


When they do speak dialogue is a problem.






“Poor Ida.”


“Is she out?”




“She’ll get out.””


“Always has.”


There’s a close up of a hearing aid.




“I said Lance.”


“I washed your pants.”


“Not pants.  Lance.”


“Ida sold the ranch.”


Foreign movie subtitles maybe necessary to reveal the intense drama of two people aging together, battling the problem of growing older everyday with humor and courage.  If my dream were a movie, it would be a hit…maybe.