You Can Get What You Want Or You Can Just Get Old

He won’t be thrilled that I’m telling this story, but it illustrates a point. So here goes.

My brother hit puberty right around the time my parents announced to us that they were divorcing. It was October 1981. We were living in Chicago, IL. My mother, brother and I moved to suburban Philadelphia in August. My father moved to Indianapolis. It must have felt like a real double-whammy for him to be wrestling with braces, glasses, pimples and strange new feelings in the pit of his stomach just as he was starting his freshman year at a brand-new high school a thousand miles away from home.

Don’t worry: this is a funny story, not a sad one.

We spent a fair dose of time in both places, tethered (for a while anyway) to neither. (All those unaccompanied plane trips between parents, you’ll recall, inspired the nightmares behind “Crash Site” — but this is a funny story, not a sad one.)

Chris’ awkward phase manifested pretty significantly during one of our long summer weekends in Indianapolis. First, he left a crisp twenty spot my dad had given him on the table of the restaurant at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Then he inadvertently tossed a golf club into a water hazard.* Later, he dropped an entire platter of spaghetti and marinara sauce all over the dining room (the one with white walls and white carpet), prompting one of my father’s patented, “Now, God dammit!”

Recently, I’ve been suffering though my own awkward phase. Two weekends ago, you’ll recall, I slipped on some rocks. Yesterday morning, I wiped out in our walk-in closet and scratched up my wrist on a stool. Yesterday afternoon, I slammed my left knee into a door jam chasing after a colleague e route to a meeting.

A few years ago, I lost my voice for a few days for no reason at all: I wasn’t sick,nor had I been singing, screaming, or otherwise straining my vocal chords. My voice just up and left me. After a few days of thought, it occurred to me that maybe it was some sort of physiological thing. My unconscious knew I needed to be quiet and listen to my inner voices, so it shut off my outer voice.

Likewise, it seems, this current phase of mine. Clearly — what with 23,000 miles of air travel in the coming six weeks alone — my unconscious is trying to tell me something.

Slow down you crazy child.

I will heed the warning, lest my next clumsy move involves Tenth Avenue traffic.

* I’m not sure this is true, though it seems entirely plausible.

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