Apparently, I am now considered vintage. Let me explain.

In something like a twisted episode of the old “Twilight Zone,” I left on a week-long road trip as what I considered to be a middle-aged guy, and somehow, inexplicably, returned as an old man. For one week, the universe seemed to have it in for me — kicking at and shaking my ego onto its knees.

Strike-one came early. While stopping at a roadside gas station, I walked in to grab a bottle of water. Walking up to the counter, a young girl, roughly the age of my own daughter, looked up.

“Wow, I like your hair,” she said. “Not too often when you see an older gentleman taking an interest in his hair and wearing it with style.”

For a moment — ever so briefly — I wondered who the young girl might be speaking to. And then, like the revealing payoff moment in each episode, the iconic theme music began dancing a terrorizing jig between my ears. The older man was me.

We all like to think we are perpetually young, or at least immune to the march of time. Old is always for someone else. We even manufacture life preserver-type phrases hoping to distract us from the face changing in the mirror. This list of greatest hits includes “You’re only as old as you act” or “Age is only a number” and other well-meaning but hollow phrases.

None of these turns of phrase rescued me three days later when a young woman stepped aboard a bus I was riding. With seats filling up, I heard my mother’s voice and got up, offering my seat to the late-boarding passenger.

“Oh no,” she said. “I’m young. Thanks all the same.”

Strike-two hit me with the force of a Nolan Ryan fastball to the rib cage — even taking away my breath and another piece of my already bruised ego.

Sitting back down, I wondered what I had done to piss off the universe.

Strike-three came later that night when a young man walked up, did a double-take, and stopped.

“Dude, awesome vintage watch,” he said. “What’s the story here?”

Again, I found myself momentarily confused — what vintage watch, I wondered.

Looking down I saw my favorite watch, one accompanying me everywhere from mountain hikes to diving into teal blue waters. A traveling partner of tens of thousands of road miles, and a survivor of being whacked into walls and submerged into cold mountain streams, the watch is practically a part of my being.

Then I did the math. My watch began traveling with me before the young man could grow a beard.

Leaning in, the young man admired my timepiece with reverence — as if seeing a rare fossil from a time long passed, from a time when watches told time and phones only made calls. To him, my watch served as a cool reminder of authenticity.

I cried uncle. If age and authentic equals vintage, then count me in. Just don’t call me old.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared in 2018.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

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(8) comments

George Croix

If you live long enough, you get old.

It beats the alternative…

Your revelations are familiar.

I had another one last weekend when it occurred to me that the Levi’s I was wearing to Grandsons soccer game had been purchased when daughter was a high school sophomore. That was 26 years ago….yesterday, so it seems….

Charles Douglas

I will share this with you Mr. Author, and I will haul-off and go on and tell you point blank that you, nor anybody else will ever see what I will tell you again! It lets you know how time has past and things will NEVER be the same!

Many years ago before I shipped out to Southeast Asia, there was a vicious freeze in Georgia where I was training, and the Georgia Airport where I was suppose to catch a flight home for a little layover before I shipped out. I had problems! Well, long story short, when I finally got a plane out of there, and got to Houston Inter Continental then to a bus station, then a connection to get another bus to Lamarque.. which let me off in the dark by the old bus stop near what use to be a Dairy Queen on the corner of Hyw 3 and 1765, it was 2A.M. in the morning!

Cell phone? None existent then! So I got off & the driver got out and.pulled my big heavy duffle bag out from underneath the bus, and I had my hand bag already from inside! So I watched as the big Continental Trailway Bus pulled off heading to Galveston I think, and as they did, I put that heavy bag on my shoulder like a big sack of cotton, and started walking West on 1765 toward Houston,... in the dark of night with my head bent to one side because of that bag ....walking toward my mom's house holding the duffle up with one hand, and hand bag with the other! Back then there was a drive-in picture show called the Bayou Drive Inn Theater to my right ..and a SAC N PAC convenience store nearby it, and both were closed & empty! We did not have sidewalks then and all we had were orster shells spread along side the road for anybody walking to negotiate. I was young then so l had that mentality that a man had to do what a man had to do, no use crying about it.

All of a.sudden... a light came up behind me ... the light of a pickup truck! The truck pulled over to the side of 1765 and there set a WOMAN driver alone! She had just gotten off work at a hospital! No kidding! The woman hollered out, "Where you going soldier?" I told her, and she said, "Throw that bag on the back of my truck and hop in." I did, and introduced myself as she did the same! She said "Ohhhhh I went to school with one of your sisters!" I said, "You did?" She said, "Yes I did!"

As we approached my stop off point, I thanked her for the ride, and she said, "No problem,...take care of yourself ..bye!" I waved bye at 2:30 A.M. in the morning to a random female who saw my uniform and a big duffle bag on my shoulder walking on orster shells trying to get home!

Question: WHEN DO YOU EVER THINK THAT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN IN THE WORLD WE LIVE IN? I will tell you .....NEVER!!!!! Those times are like the buffalo, the mountain men, and the great horse culture of the Old West,..... gone forever!

Charles Douglas

That convenience store was called "Polar Bear."

DANIEL PICKETT

I love this story, Charles. It reminds me of my adventures while hitch-hiking around the state of Texas is my Aggie uniform in late 1950s and early 1960s.

Paula Flinn

My parents always picked up people in uniform! It was another time! I heard stories from my mother about unlocked doors and unlocked gates to backyards where a person could get a glass of milk and a sandwich, if they were “ down on their luck,” and needed a meal. This was during the depression when people actually cared about each other.

Bailey Jones

Paula, my dad told me the same thing. During the depression, men "down on their luck" would show up at the door and my grandmother would make them a plate. I've taken up the same thing with one of our "down on their luck" neighbors who comes by for odd jobs. If I've been cooking I'll make him a plate. It's a simple thing but means a lot if you don't have much to eat. I won't be leaving my doors unlocked, though. [wink]

Charles Douglas

Many years ago when I was an apprentice, a craftsman told me this: "Douglas, you want to know something?" I said yes sir, what it "Cracking Lack?" He said, "Before long, you and I are going to be paying one dollar for a gallon of gasoline!" I said, NO SIR!!!! YOU MIGHT, BUT I WON'T!!!!! He said, " Douglas!" " How the [censored] I will pay that amount, and you won't have to?" ( believe it or not that was how cheap gas was!) I said, Listen brother, before I start paying a dollar for a gallon of gas, I will go buy me a buggy and a mule to get around in! You can do as.you please! Lololo! He said, " You crazy!" "Better get ready to pay for that gas because it is coming!" One of us was lying and it was NOT THAT CRAFTSMAN!!!!!!!! I look now at what's going on in this country, and it is scandalous what they are changing for a gallon of gas now! That cradtman is not with us today, but somehow I bet he is somewhere on his back kicking his legs, and throwing his arms around laughing his behind off at me now, or feeling sorry for me. I hope it is the last One! Lolo.

Carlos Ponce

The Santa Fe Old School Museum has many things considered "vintage". Young people are intrigued by treadle sewing machines, typewriters, hand crank phones, candlestick phones, rotary desk phones, pitcher pumps, etc. I did not understand the interest of typing on a typewriter since the keyboard is similar to those found on modern computers. A fifth grader explained: "When you hit the key EVERYTHING MOVES!"

Next time a young person has to explain your cell phone to you just ask them to dial a rotary phone (or try to).[beam]

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