The old man stands in front of me, eyes wide with passion and excitement, mouth half open as his tongue fumbles around in the inside of his mouth. He mumbles incoherent sounds as he tries to give utterance to the unimaginable wisdom and truth that surely exists inside his skull. And I stand waiting for it.
“Take it from an old man who knows,” he says finally, “You got to get you an education if you want to do something with your life. Got to stay in school.”
I nod and smile at his trite advice. So says the life long day labor, my mind mocks, but I don’t allow my mouth to give voice to it.
“But even if you don’t, you got to be able to enjoy what you’re doing, no matter what it is. If you spend your whole life trying to get somewhere, one day you’re gonna look up and see you missed out on everything. ”
I nod and smile. And maybe I should stop and smell the roses, too.
“If there’s one thing you gotta value, it’s your health,” says he, “Value it while you got it, cause there ain’t no money in the world that can buy it back if you don’t got it, and one day you won’t.”
I nod and smile. Crawl back into your hole, old man, crawl back into your grave and die.
“Nobody lives forever, boy, but only the lucky get old. Ain’t nobody invincible.”
I nod and smile. Yes, lucky like Marlon Brando, a fat joke, and misfortunate like James Dean, an icon. A tragedy to burn out like Morrison, and a blessing to fade away like you, you old piece of shit.
“You don’t want to hear what I got to say and by the time you do, you won’t need it any more or be able to do nothing with it. But I’m telling you now, because I wish I would have listened when someone told me.”
I nod and smile. As if I need some senile old fucker to lecture me.
“No, really, thanks,” I say, “I’ll be sure to keep all that in mind.”
He nods and smiles. And we go our separate ways.