Aging & Wisdom Struggles: Being Stuck in Neutral 

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Being Known and Not

Being Known and Not 

The games we play here, making pals on Medium, etc. 

Lately, as I’ve written about here recently, I’ve had big changes in a number of my social relationships. 

While I know that some of this is simply a matter of aging and the inevitability of change, some of it is tied to my still learning across a wide spectrum in my life, including socialization.  One of my major observations in this has been the role that knowing people, really truly knowing them and more to the point feeling known and understood by them in return, is playing in how my friendships are moving forward and NOT doing well.  I’m not talking here about some kind of deep, spiritual connection, which I suppose is fine if you can find that, but I’m referring to simply keeping up with friends or acquaintances well enough to know and care about their lives and to be able to know or guess or speculate to a reasonably close proximity what they are going through, what matters and what doesn’t matter to them now, presently, and to be able to converse with at least the appearance of giving a shit.  I dunno, maybe I expect too much in my desire to be seen for who I am now, and not mistaken for whoever I was 5 or 10 or 50 years ago.  This is NOT me anymore, nor has it been for about 73 years. 

Being Known and Not

Neither is this, at least not much, me any longer either.

Being Known and Not

This is closer to the mark, I’m afraid.

Being Known and Not

And looking at this present-day version of myself I can understand why some people might not care about knowing me anymore — which, it turns out is both fine by me and not okay at all, especially if they have any wishes of wanting me to know them in return.  

My Grandiose “Memorial Service” Outline of Greatness

As I begin to make plans for my coming memorial service, a paeanistic and atheistic orgy of food, drink, and joyful tears, a veritable cluster fun-fuck of heartbreak and rapturous bliss over my cremated remains, I must consider many matters.

The back row will be reserved for women and girls who have been disappointed by me—make that most all the rows, leaving room for them to dance as joyful celebrants. The tiny group of people who will actually give a shit that I’m dead will fit into a space about the size of a sub-compact rental car interior.

For a long time, I thought it would be my writing that touched the world. But lately, at age 75 and ¾'s I’ve decided that mastering “the blues” on my guitar is the best possible use of the time I have left. I feel certain that this “music” is the best path to immortality for me and that in the future people will say, “Terry Trueman” or maybe it will be “Terry?...Trueman?” if and when they recount the excitement of my existence, and it will be on account of my having listened to the 1950 version of the song "Rolling Stone" by Muddy Waters and realizing that any idiot with 4 or 5 strings left on his beat-up, out of tune, $11 acoustic guitar can sound at least as good as he did back then.

You see, the deal is my writing just ain’t doing the job any longer. Se la vi.

Fame and immortality are as effervescent and implausible for so-called geniuses as for the rest of us—me, Muddy Waters, you, anybody, everybody.

There is no fuckin’ immortality. There isn’t. I promise you.

All my life I wanted fame more than fortune, although fortune woulda been fine too. But finally, as the years advance and rip me to shreds, I see the truth. All my life I wanted gorgeous women to be on their knees stroking the hem of my garments in adoration for my talent or for any reason at all, really, just so long as they were down there stroking.

But here’s the deal. Whether it happens doesn’t matter in the end.

Whether you get your name on a coffee cup for a speaking gig that later kicks you out for being a pain in the ass, or win a big award that people quickly forget about completely or whatever, it doesn’t matter. Trust me on this and while we’re at it, NEVER trust somebody who tells you to trust them.  But it does not matter what you do or how your life unfolds, your immortality project is going to fail.

My novel Stuck In Neutral is presently stuck kind of in neutral – not selling nearly as much as it used to, not being used nearly as often in school classrooms. It somehow missed the list of Best 100 Books for Teens Published in this Millennium (since the year 2000). This list was evidentially compiled by teen services librarians who seem to have heard about my flesh wounds at the hands of the #Metoo movement of a few years ago.

Stuck in Neutral is and has always been a “heartbreaking work staggering genius” (quote by me). But I am much like the bereft F. Scott Fitzgerald, he of The Great Gatsby fame, who received a total of under $5 in “royalties” in the late 1940’s for all his books; he died convinced of his failure. Glory and fame and legend can come and go, and come again and go again, and none of it means doodly -squat.

This evening I’m going to a memorial service for the wife of a friend, a wife who never liked me all that much. Everybody loved her and I liked her too. But because her very best friend will one day have a seat reserved in one of those rows at my funeral, the seats where girls and women who are sure I’m going straight to hell are all chuckling together, my friend’s wife always approached me with something more than a little reserve. She was a converted Jew and I’m mostly nervous about balancing a Umaka on my bald head for an hour or some Spokane Nazi choosing this event to open fire on all of us at Temple Beth Shalom with his Bushmaster, but otherwise this event has mostly launched me into ruminations about my own coming death plans.

I remember once reading about Muhammad Ali’s very extensive plans and detailed instructions for how he wanted his funeral service to go, down to the number and color of stretch limos and probably the names of exotic dancers and including the menu of Black Muslim food, all blessed by The honorable Elija Muhammad or somebody like him, maybe the Pope, maybe the POTUS, maybe yer Mama, but a huge, extravagant event, putting Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa to shame. Funerals for black people in America used to be very big deals because racism stopped them during their lives from having big houses in great neighborhoods, so they saved money for a big send-off. I think O.J. Simpson, helped revive that tradition of segregated communities a bit, but we digress. Anyway, the man formerly slave-named Cassius Clay, who knew the Beatles a bit before half of them died too, got his big send-off, and near as I can tell it didn’t help him a bit. He was still dead as could be.

My wife Patti has assured me that if I pass away before her, I’ll get absolutely NOTHING by way of remembrance. She already buried one husband when she was 36 years old, leaving her a widow with two teenage kids, so she will never forgive me if I leave her alone again. Truthfully, I don’t mind. I mean, I’ll be dead anyway so that you won’t hear any complaints outta me.

I hope, however, that Patti will follow through with my plan to play Mr. Muddy Waters's 1950 recording of Rolling Stone, which I can assure you that despite the likelihood of Keith Richard’s excited views to the contrary, will give me the kind of send-off I deserve, one forgettable and brief and absent a great deal of moaning and belly-aching.

"Fishin afta enuf! Show enuf!"

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