Elder Hostile

Sep 30, 2010

Dear Dave,

I work at a major university out west. My job is to help faculty understand and use the latest in cutting-edge computer technologies… you know, applications like Droople, Ning, Splip, Smoopo, Mesmik, and Drikmax. In other words, I’m young, whip-smart, and, okay, twist-my-arm… devilishly good looking.

I tell you this as background because… well, because.

My problem actually concerns a good friend of mine, who is many, many years older than I. What’s killing me is watching him try to keep up with the world around him. Even though he’s had more surgeries than Dick Cheney and has retained less cognitive horsepower than George Bush, he’s in complete and total denial.

Bicycling with him - an embarrassing and painful duty that fell to me because I lost the office lottery - is like taking a twenty five year-old dog to the park; he bumps into things, is chronically short of breath, and scares small children.

He spills coffee on himself, jumps when his cell phone rings, and in meetings simply tilts his head from side to side like the RCA dog and grunts.

He’s obsessed with lost youth. He’s recently joined a band, and just yesterday he told me he’s pricing skateboards. I worry that someday soon he’ll be wearing one of those ridiculous little African pillbox hats or will start listening to The Magnetic Zeros (with a straight face).

Even though I’m whip-smart, and, okay, twist-my-arm… devilishly good looking, I could use a little help. What the heck should I do about this guy? He simply won’t give up.

Eyewitness to a Trainwreck

Dear Eyewitness to a Trainwreck,

This one is so easy it’ll be embarrassing cashing this week’s paycheck.

The problem, of course, is you, my friend. You’re so awed by your buddy’s majestic accomplishments and his limitless, highly-burnished talent, and so unsatisfied with living in his shadows, that you’ve twisted this all up in that “whip-smart” mind of yours to become some sort of pity-the-elderly melodrama. Psychiatrists call this ego-generated trans-issue personality disorder, which means absolutely nothing, but at $145 an hour is good for a couple of decent rounds at Eagle-Vail.

Many of us would consider ourselves blessed to have such a luminary in our presence. So what if he drools a bit and forgets to zip up occasionally. Just remember: If you accomplish half of what he’s accomplished in his life, you’ll have done twice as much as he’s forgotten he meant to remember. Or something like that.

So go now and cherish your friend. And remind him dinner is at seven in the Aspen Room.