01 March 2008

The Grumpy Old Man Stays Home

Wow, I'm really feeling my age tonight. Bill Moon, the singing accountant and one of my favorite people in New York, was having a birthday party at a midtown bar, and I'd been planning all week on going to it. But when the critical hour came, doubts started playing on my mind. "It doesn't even start until 10:30 pm; what time do you think you'll get home?" "Remember you have to be up at 7:30 in the morning." "Everybody will be drinking and you won't; how much fun will that be?" That sort of thing.

The thing is, normally it doesn't bother me at all to be at a bar or party where almost everybody is drinking even though I'm not. In fact I kind of enjoy letting other people do the drinking for me (and suffering the attendant hangovers, financial damage, etc.). I still get to laugh at all the dumb jokes, get away with saying retarded things myself with the knowledge that no one will understand or remember what I say anyway.

But for some reason I just didn't have it in me tonight. It wasn't the weather - there's a bit of snow mixed with rain going on, but I've got an umbrella - and it wasn't the late night subway rides - well, maybe a little: if it were just the L, I wouldn't even think twice, but then I'd have to get another train up and back downtown, and... No, that's not it, either. Last time I attended one of Bill's parties, it was way further uptown and we came home on the train at 3:30 or 4 in the morning with no problem at all.

And I can't even claim illness, as several other non-attendees have done. These days, or at least for the last two or three years, anyway, I just don't seem to get sick, even while others all around me are. A little worn out and tired from time to time, yeah, maybe a sniffle or two on the worst winter days, but that's about it. In fact normally I have trouble keeping my patience with people half my age who seem to be getting sick every couple weeks as if that were the most normal thing in the world. And yes, I realize I could be jinxing myself in a very bad way by talking like that, so I'll shut up right now and say no more on the subject.

The one thing I am doing first thing tomorrow - and this seems a little bizarre even to me - is volunteering for my alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, to read applications for some sort of scholarship program. So if you're a kid who's going to Berkeley next year, your fate just may be in my hands, scary as that might be, and if you knew what a grammar and spelling nazi I can be, you might wish you'd done that third, fourth and fifth proofreading (yes, I know the law of jinxes now virtually guarantees a solecism or three in this post, so go ahead and laugh at me if it makes you feel better).

I'm not sure why I signed up to do this; maybe it's because I was a scholarship kid myself, though not at Berkeley. I won a scholarship at 17 for my first college, but promptly lost it when I was expelled after only two months. For my sins I then had to pay my own way through the rest of my (unnaturally lengthy) college career.

And although I can be very judgmental about grammar and spelling, I'd like to think I'd never disqualify a kid on those grounds alone. I'm more interested in attitude, i.e., why someone wants to attend university. And not just what they hope to get out of it, but what they see it enabling them to give back to the community and society.

Wow, that sounds very uppity of me, so I think I'd better quit right here before I dig myself any deeper. To be honest, I don't even know what role if any my opinions will play in this scholarship program. It just seemed like an interesting thing to volunteer for, so I did, and I suppose I'll find out the rest tomorrow. Which means I'd better get to bed soonish, as in right now. You don't want me nodding off and drooling all over those applications tomorrow, do you?

Oh, and happy birthday, Bill Moon! Sorry I'm such a downer. Especially when your birthday only comes once every four years!

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