Age


Tempus fugit.

I’ve been thinking about my age–again. So, what got me thinking about my age? The presidential campaign had a lot to do with it. Come January 20, 2009, I will be–for the first time in my life! –older than the President of the United States of America.

This must be a significant moment in my life. Now that I think of it, I’m also older than Osama bin Laden–if he’s still alive. I was the oldest of six children. After I failed the fourth grade–the toughest two years of my life–I was among the oldest in the class. When I joined the Marines, I was 22, so I was the oldest recruit in my platoon in boot camp. I’m now older than my mother was when she died in 1986 at age 51.

I remember in grade school how we had to date every writing assignment we turned in. Every time I would write the year 1963, 1964, etc., I would fantasize about the day that I would someday write the year 2000. But I planned to be out of grade school by then. The year 2000 seemed so far off into the future.

Time traveled much more slowly back then. I remember watching the second hand of the clock in our classroom. The second hand moved ever so slowly right around dismissal time. Those last ten minutes of school seemed to last a lot longer than the previous six hours of school.

I remember birthdays taking much longer to come around. Birthdays meant so much more back then. I remember anxiously awaiting my tenth birthday because writing my age would require writing two digits. That tenth birthday also took forever to come around. The next milestone was 13 because then I would be a teenager. At 16, I took driver’s ed. At 18, I registered for the draft even though no one was being drafted to Vietnam anymore. At 19, I was able to buy wine and beer in the state of Illinois. When they changed the drinking age back to 21, ta da! I turned 21!

25 was my favorite age because my auto insurance really dropped then. That meant I was no longer in the high-risk age group of drivers 16-24. The last significant milestone was 30. I enjoyed the nice round number. After that, birthdays didn’t really seem all that important to me anymore. When I turned forty, I celebrated by taking a nap. My friends insisted on throwing me a surprise big 5-OH party even though I told them I didn’t want one after they told me about my surprise party. I mean, it really wasn’t a surprise anymore after they told me about it so I wouldn’t go on vacation before my party even though it was in July even though my birthday was in May. So, I’m older than President-elect Barack Obama. How do I absorb all this? I think I’m going to bed. Good night!

DDR

Casa de Obama


Hyde Park, Chicago Illinois.

The other day, I had the strongest urge to visit Barack Obama’s house. I don’t know what came over me, but suddenly I had this great desire to visit a famous place in the news. I told my sons, “We’re going to President Elect Barack Obama’s house!” At first, I thought they would they would look at me as if I were crazy, which is their normal reaction when I suggest any new and exciting activity. I was wrong! They actually thought it was a great idea. Only that they somehow imagined that his house was very, very far away. I explained that he lived less than thirty minutes from us.

So off we went in search of Barack Obama’s house in Hyde Park. I knew the security would be tight because I watched the news and I saw the concrete barriers around his house. There were many, many Chicago police officers around his house–a two-block radius around his house. I told my sons before we even set out on our trip that we might not even get close to the Obama house, but we could at least visit the neighborhood of the President of the United States of America.

Surprisingly, I was able to park legally at the corner right near a police car that was guarding the closed off intersection leading to his house. As we approached the corner, the police officer exited her squad car and asked if we lived on this side of the block. I said no and she said we would have to walk across the street. Before I left our house, I had no idea where Obama lived other than in Hyde Park, but I figured I’d find his house once I saw all the police cars blocking off the streets. I really thought we would have to walk several blocks. But we were extremely lucky to park so close!

There were multiple police cars and police officers standing out in the middle of the barricaded street. I saw a group of gawkers taking pictures of a house, so I asked, “Is that his house?” and they responded in awe, “That’s his house!” Lo and behold! We had arrived at Barack Obama’s house. As seen on TV! My sons couldn’t believe I had taken them all the way to the front of Barack Obama’s house, albeit across the street. I took some pictures and then we walked away. The police officer who directed us across the street smiled at us and asked if we enjoyed our visit. We said we did and walked back to our car.

As we were getting into the car, I realized that this was exactly the kind of trip my father used to take us on when we were little. He would see something on the news and then take us there. He wouldn’t tell us where we were going. It was just like, “¡Vámonos!” and we would all pile into the car and go. Once, my father saw a chess master playing 25 boards simultaneously at a restaurant in Little Italy, so off we went to play the chess master! The next day, my friends at school told me they saw me playing chess on the news!

When the plane crashed before reaching Midway Airport in 1971, my father took us to the crash site despite the fact that on the news they told everyone to stay away. We were less that a quarter-block away and we could see the actual fuselage and tail of the plane that crashed! However, no one saw us on the news that time. Many people saw my father on the news many times over the years. He just loved the limelight. On the IRS tax deadline day one year, I was watching the news and they showed all the last-minute filers going to the downtown post office to get that coveted April 16th postmark in order to beat the IRS deadline. They interviewed several last-minute filers and all the while I thought, “What idiots! Waiting till the last minute to file their tax returns!” Suddenly, I saw a familiar face. It was my father! He was being interviewed by the news reporter. Somehow he always found a way to get on the news!

I guess by taking my sons to Obama’s house, I was keeping my father’s tradition alive. I didn’t get on the news during our visit to his house, but I realized that I did inherit my father’s thirst to go to where the news is. Ugh! I’ve become my father! ¡Ay! ¡Ay! ¡Ay!

Free time


Barack Obama's house in Hyde Park.

Now that it has become quite apparent that Barack Obama will not select me has his presidential running mate, I realize that I will have a lot of free time on my hands. I’m not taking this political snub personally, B.O., because I understand that that’s how presidencies are won or lost. I don’t want to hold you back, B.O.! That will be my contribution to your presidential campaign. Trust me. My personal support for you is worth much more than my personal assets. That’s why I was kind of hoping I could be vice president. I could contribute a lot to this country as vice president, but since you have already chosen Joe Biden, I guess you’ll just have to make the best of the hand you were dealt–as will I. As election day rapidly approaches, I get this nagging sensation that John McCain won’t pick me as his running mate, either. I wish them both the best of luck with my name conspicuously missing from the slate. And, I am absolutely convinced that the independent candidate (Rafael Nadal?) doesn’t even know that I exist. Because of all the free time that I will now have from not hitting the campaign trail and pressing the flesh, I have decided to start playing chess again. Some students at UIC are starting a chess club and I am their faculty adviser. Perhaps our chess playing will help American interests at home and abroad. That’s the kind of guy I am! I always try to improve the world in my own little way!