Free Writing

Someday I Want to Be a Burdensome Old Man

My recent string of sicknesses has renewed my commitment to living a long life. But the goal is not merely to lengthen my existence for the sake of it like a deluded hermit. See, there’s this image in my head that I just love: me sitting at a table surrounded by dozens and dozens of my children and grandchildren, all bearing a resemblance to me in varying degrees, all waiting to get my blessing for something, all waiting to say their polite pieces to the “godfather”–the head of the clan.

But it’s not even the power or the prestige I’m after. I’m really just aiming to be the biggest, wrinkliest, most annoying burden the whole family has to bear with in every single gathering.

I just want to shoot sharp disapproving looks at everyone. And I mean everyone. I wouldn’t care if you managed to snatch the top spot in the bar exams or got a supermodel to be your wife, you’ll get the same grouchy disapproving look from my face–the same exact look your suicidal, junkie cousin gets.

Oh I would have the time of my life, just wearing a patented steel frown like Robert De Niro and muttering horrific curses under my breath without stopping. Sometimes my poor children and grandchildren would be able to catch some words when they take my hand to kiss it or press it to their foreheads; memorable words like “moron” and “idiot” and “clown” or “wench.”

I’d be carrying a trusty wooden cane, so I could snappily hit the little ones on the butt if their horsing around gets within two meters of me. They’ll shriek and bawl for mommy and daddy, and mommy and daddy won’t get anything from me but my go-to advice to “Discipline your stupid child!”

Cane would also be handy when poking someone rather painfully in the kidneys if they block my view of the TV.

On the buffet table, I’d take scandalous amounts of everything and then make it a point to eat only about 7% of my plate, all the while complaining loudly about the taste and my false teeth, which would keep on falling into the soup bowl with a plop.

That would be nice. Spoiling everyone’s appetite before they’ve had their fill and just making the table generally awkward for the hapless, brave souls who happen to sit there. And then I’d be munching the food in my mouth in that irritating way old people process their food, and spitting some of it unceremoniously onto the plate or napkin for everyone to see.

Nobody would get any real positive encouragement or sound advice from me. I’d always be comparing them to some long-dead celebrity or famous person I knew or remember from the good old days when the world wasn’t overrun by “wimpy dumbasses (my favorite catch-all term).”

Of course my life would be the golden standard for everyone, and I would happily replace the majority of it with amazing tales of impossible feats you couldn’t possibly match. “I used to sell little goldfish in the streets until I had enough money to buy a luxury car” or “Once, I got lost in the woods for 5 months and I only ate earthworms to survive. When they found me, I was wrestling a wild boar to the ground, which I proceeded to gut alive with my teeth.”

I’d remember each and everyone’s name but I would see to it to switch it with another one just to get the message across that their existence doesn’t mean squat to me. “Oh you’re not Rachel? Who are you?” “Megan. Rachel died 7 years ago, pops.” “Oh really? Tsk. Everyone dies soon enough.”

And then of course I’d do ridiculous things when I’m in the middle of the crowd, like letting my trousers fall, or kicking the cute dog everybody loves, peeing on the bonsai, “accidentally” crashing against some kid’s artsy school project he’s been working on for weeks, sitting on the cat, tasting the cake’s icing and eating all the flowers before a picture has been taken, dropping an expensive vase (Oops!), and constantly spitting the stickiest balls of phlegm to the floor.

My family would hate me so much they would jokingly wish among themselves that I die a horrible death, but I would disappoint them every freakin’ year because I just won’t. I’d be there, wasting away, little by little until only skin and bones remain but nevertheless, I’d still be there. Still whispering insults about the adults and scaring the snot out of the little ones.

Personally, I think it’s a beautiful goal to set for myself. I better work on it now.

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