Best sell-by

Satchel Paige said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” I think that’s probably a trick question. It’s a little like that saying about a tree falling in the forest. If there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Yeah, like that. If there’s no one there to hear me moaning and creaking as I get out of bed fresh from turning sixty, have I really turned sixty? Have I already passed my best “sell by” date?

Here’s a little pome (this stuff hardly qualifies as a poem) in honor of my six decades — tongue-in-cheek, naturally, and dentures on a shelf.

Hint: the pome reads more easily if you use a sing-song rhythm — out loud — and forget pentameter. A Texas accent also helps. If you’re still confused by the pome, please refer to the previous fifty-five posts for background.

In looking back on years gone by

Despite the contrary things he’d know’d

Time marched on without his help

But them that watched saw how he grow’d

And things had happened on the way

But they were things he had not see’d

Though clear to others and plainly so

His anger became, you know, his creed

So long ago the lights went out

Ne’er again, he thought, would be his need

For things outside himself, you see

And with himself he much agreed

His counsel only he would keep

All others he ignored

When others thought to think him good

He thought them off their gourd

When at some point as years piled high

He found himself not quite so drunk’ed

A little light peeked through, it’s true

But life it mostly stunk’ed

His problem still, I’m here to tell you

All selfish and self-centered

No matter how he’d tried to change it

His life it still was splintered

To his surprise, things were a’changin’

These filled him full of dread

For over all those years of hiding

He’d expected, surely, to be dead

If there’s a moral to this story

We’d expect for it to lead

To something dark, foreboding

Surely not a life that’s freed

The boy that died so long ago

Or ‘least to him that’s how it seemed

Was found to still be breathing

Or was it only what he’d dreamed

He’d worried on and on and on

If him they really know’d

Would walk away and leave him there

Alone along the road

It took some time, sixty years, you know

From what he knew he’d sowed

His life was full of something, sure

That some would call a load

But things can change

Or so he’d been toad

They change no matter what you do

No matter you’ve said “vetoed!”

Things they’re changing still

And though some fear’s subsided

He’s trying to do better, true

But himself he’s still derided

Slowly, yes, ever so slowly

He found he remembered still

That one from long ago, so long

The one he’d tried to kill

So now they’re friends these two

Even have between’em a code

And with the help of each of them

On them some honors were bestowed

And you may think the two are one

With you they’ve disagreed

But gradual-like and none too fast

The merger will proceed

Good and bad they’re just one coin

On that he now agreed

You say he should have known ‘fore now

And ask if he’d accede?

The two were always one

If on that fact he’d been confused

But one forgot the other

The other not amused

Now they’ve met again

The two as one decreed

We’re in this thing together

They mutually agreed

But wait, you ask, again and louder

What’s next, how’ll it all conclude?

You look to him and wonder

Not to answer would surely be rude

Undeterred, it’s said, he turned his face

Into a wind that blow’d

And smiled, but only to himself

And ambled down the road.