RL Seltman and Shirley Pu in "Narcissus Consumes Echo" 11/9/1980
The symptom is simple... I answer the phone, a call from a longtime family friend, and she wants to talk to my son. Then the void, I can't remember her name. In fact, I can't create an alternative way to express who she is. Just a blackhole, where once images and words would appear. Nothing... Fortunately, after painful seconds in that spooky void, a name, an image, I remember.
Soon after, the doorbell sounds, and my youngest son beats me to the door. It is our summer swimming pool ordered on Amazon. I wobble quickly to sign for the package. And then again another symptom... I can no longer sign, no longer articulate a signature. Crude scratches microscopic in size represent a lifetime of practiced penmanship lost to a brutal scribble, chicken scratches. Another symptom of Parkinson's becoming more and more blatant, more and more the new me.
Japan has state-of-the-art elevators, including a polite but painful visual reminder. A small video screen greets me and shows me, in immaculate digital panorama, the back of my head. A daily reminder of my balding, a glowing ostrich egg, in a nest of white and grey. No longer the gentle knight, a rescuer of damsels in distress, but a fragile bent senior so obviously old, from every embarrassing angle.
Selfies are no longer fun. Finding a suitable self portrait, in a hard-drive of snapshots, is like dumpster diving for diamonds. There just isn't any gif that captures the boyish manliness, my sexy self-image. Bitable soft skin tender to the touch, replaced now by a turkey-like double chin. A stomach roll worthy of a greedy despot, a million mishaps short of a six-pack.
Fifty years ago my high school buddy and I would fist-punch each other's rock-hard stomach to verify our nightly challenge of sit-ups. Now I cling to handrails, pulling myself slowly upward to a breathless landing, facing the inevitable, more floors to climb.
Thank God I'm still handsome! Feeling virile and forever... Happy in my delusion! Trusting in my dwindling supply of testosterone to get me through another night of luck and love. "What choice do I have?" spoken by my old man, last time I saw him alive. And alive he was, a raucous rake, to the bittersweet end. A model to follow to the edge of my existence, persevering in glorious masculine fervor, grinning impishly to all the irony. What choice do any of us have?