Monday, June 30, 2008

Nothing's Gonna Change My World

It's early afternoon. I am in a waiting room in a doctor's office. Muzak plays faintly in the background. Sitting on all sides of me are old people. From what I heard my parents tell, old people go to the doctor a lot, especially the ones on Medicaid. They reason that the free insurance they have must not go to waste. They go in for a checkup, come back for tests because the doctor has found something wrong, return for more tests because the tests have shown something else that is wrong too and needs to be examined closer. The tests don't lie; old people are fragile. They go to the doctors' offices like they used to go to work when they were younger. It becomes the meaning of their lives; their main interest that they are always happy to discuss with their friends over a cup of tea. I cannot relate to anyone in this waiting room. I sit next to a pile of magazines, dig through "Arthritis Monthly" and the like and finally find a copy of The Ladies' Home Journal. I open it and begin to read.

Halfway through an article on low-fat cooking, a new song comes through the speakers.

Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup...

Holy smokes! I sit up and listen closer.

This used to be my favorite song when I was fourteen.

The murder of John Lennon sparked a new wave of Beatlemania in my home country, among teenagers anyway. One way or the other, each of us managed to come into possession of a Beatles tape. After school, I'd bring my friends to my apartment and we'd sit in our only room that I shared with my parents and listen to "Rubber Soul" or "Abbey Road" for hours, discussing the intricacies of the lyrics. We'd argue about who was better, Lennon or McCartney. (Lennon, of course.) Just before my parents came back from work, my friends would slip out quietly and I'd sit at my desk, looking like I'd been doing homework that whole time.

I think about those days, the teenage awkwardness, the dreams of growing up and becoming successful. I remember my best friend and a kid who had a crush on me in 7th grade, but covered it up so well, I thought he hated me and I didn't know why. I remember the room I grew up in, the tape deck that was already there when I was born, my friends' faces. For a minute, I am fourteen again.

I look up and see a face with a dreamy expression on it. "Oh, to be a teenager again." Only it isn't my face.

It's some random old guy's.

The man sitting across from me is clearly reliving his own younger days, his own Beatles-related memories. Come to think of it, he is not bad-looking.

He is also at least sixty-five. But at this moment, I can relate to him just as if we had grown up listening to Across the Universe in my parents' apartment together.

I think about my coworkers, about people whose blogs I read. How many of them can tell what "Across the Universe" even is? How many can name all four Beatles? I can do it in my sleep.

It is a sad, sad day the first time you feel one with a senior citizen.

"Welcome to the old age, Goldie," I say to myself.

The Goldie has spoken at 7:06 PM

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