Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obit Cruisin'

Old people check the obituaries.  Every day.  This fact can be confirmed with a quick visit to any Rest Home or Adult Village the world over. It’s a widely known fact that each morning, while sipping half-caf and knocking back some bran, old people take a fine-tooth comb to the obituaries page of the local paper.   But this practice is not limited to just the local paper – it’s any paper.  Why?  Because it’s not about seeing if a distant friend or acquaintance is the topic of page 8, rather it is all about checking the ages on each of the deceased and then comparing that against your own.   How can I be certain?  Because now as I hear 40 knocking (nay, banging violently) upon my door, I’ve caught myself perpetrating the same act. 

  Once upon a time, I would point, laugh and make old people jokes as I happened across dear aging family members and friends  taking part in this ritual.  Now I realize the error of my young foolheartedness.   It started a few months ago, each time the paper comes, I complete the cycle – start to finish -the half-caf, the bran, the whole she-bang.  Initially, I mistook my grim check-in as compassion but soon I realized while scanning the Press-Citizen Obit section, that I didn’t know a freakin’ soul in Iowa City,- it was clear – I was just an old person searching for validation.  

   Now, as I scan the Obituaries, making certain that the majority of ages listed on these final biographies are significantly higher than my own, I don't try to pretend  - I own the freakish task.  Like complaining about the lyrics of popular music and being horrified by teenage fashion, The Obit Crusie is a rite of passage and that I have passed into full on.  

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