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I AM OLD



Quiet.

Peace and quiet.

Our little town of Quarante, with its 1,500 or so inhabitants, typifies serenity and tranquility almost to the point of narcolepsy. And in truth, I like it that way.

That's not to say that folks in Quarante don't know how to have fun. On Bastille Day, they rev up the municipal band in front of the Town Hall, we march through the village to the school's soccer stadium, and we enjoy a quite respectable fireworks display.

We run the bulls in Quarante. The boys run behind, exhibiting their bravery by grabbing a tail or a horn. (Sorry, PETA. They do.) The girls stand on the sidelines, giggling and applauding. (Sorry, Gloria Steinem. They do.) And the rest of us shake our heads, smile, and head for the bar for another glass of wine. (Not sorry in the least...)

No, when it's time for a fete, the folks in Quarante know how to party. But in the main, day to day
and week to week, with the exception of the occasional bothersome, waspish sounding two-stroke scooter piloted by a youthful Formula 1 wannabe, at night the cats don't mewl, the dogs don't ruff, and even the crickets stay respectfully muted. For a city person, such an overwhelming lack of background noise can be a bit unnerving. But I was raised on a dirt road in the country. A car driving past the house at night was an unusual event. So the nighttime quiet of Quarante is the quiet of my youth.

My youth...

I remember my youth. I do. I remember fun. I remember being the one tasked to buy the beer because I looked old enough and had a reliable car. I remember late nights in secluded turn-offs, hanging with friends around a makeshift campfire, listening to a transistor radio, swaying to the music, trying desperately to get to a base, any base. But I am old now. I have more hair on my chin than on the top of my head. And I need my sleep.

I try to be a good guy. I do. So when I walked past my neighbor's house at 8:00 PM the other night on my way to picking up a pizza for dinner, I said that I didn't mind that, in the absence of his mother, the young man (Late teens? Early 20s?) had invited a dozen or so of his friends over for a bit of music and youthful horseplay. By 10:00 PM, the party was really rolling. By midnight, it hadn't even begun to slow down. At 1:30 AM, I gave in.

I pulled on pants and shoes, walked next door, and banged on the slightly open door. My young neighbor eventually appeared.

"Ca suffit," I said. That's enough. And he was good about it. He apologized. The music stopped. and although occasional bursts of youthful laughter still leaked through closed doors and shutters, I was able to get to sleep.

I am old.

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my get up and go has got up and went,
But in spite of it all I am able to grin.
When I think of the places my get up has been.
                                            ~ Denny Davis


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