Sex, spitballs, and seniors
I don't know where I read it, but it struck me as a good idea: once we reach, say, fifty, men simply shouldn't dance any more in public. Well, maybe Robert Redford. Dancing, after all, is basically about seduction, and it's just, well, gauche, for younger people to think of old men wanting to get anyone, even old women, in bed. I know--I was one once (young people) and am one now (old man).
Last semester, in fiction class, we were talking about a story one of my students was working on, a story that had taken a turn toward the genre of murder/mystery. I was telling them that good genre fiction isn't easy to write. Even though the characters flatten out and plot becomes pre-eminent, it's simply not easy to write good horror or romance or sci fi.
All fine. Then I went a step too far.
"If I were to tell you to write two pages of the very best sex you could, you'd be surprised at how difficult it is," I said, in all seriousness, and thereby immediately evoked the "eeeuuuuwww" factor, which arose like an audible stench from the rank-and-file. I'd gone too far. I honestly think my students like me, but what they don't like is the old guy/grandpa talking about sex. Nope. Taboo. Eeeuuuuwww. Robert Redford I'm not.
Thusly, my freedom is limited by factors that are out of my control. That's what I'm thinking this morning, trying to determine what to say tomorrow night. Here's why.
Tomorrow night I've got to give a grade school graduation speech, something I've not done for many years. When I was younger, I did it at least twice every spring. I've done grade school--and high school--grads at all the local Christian schools, but not for a long, long time. Tomorrow night, the drought ends, locally. Tomorrow night, ye olde man returns.
It so happens I had a winner of a speech twenty years ago, a speech that began with a story about me throwing spitwads when I was in eighth grade. Grad speeches aren't really meant to be heard I don't think, but this one stuck in people's minds just like those spitwads stuck to the ceiling and chalkboard and anything else we targeted in eighth grade. Not long ago, I still got a request for that speech from halfway across the state. I'm not making that up.
Yesterday, I wrote a speech for tomorrow night. It's not as good--which is to say, as memorable --as the spitwads thing. It's about Daniel, from the Bible, but there's no lions in it, so I'm not just running out cliches. But it's no spitball speech, and this morning, early, I'm thinking of dumping Daniel for the spitballs, a speech I know very well is a winner.
But at my age the eeuuuwww factor is frightening. The spitball speech has nothing to do with sex--that's not it. But I'm thinking that one reason that speech was a hit twenty years ago is that I was twenty years younger. Eighth grade kids could actually imagine me being fourteen. Today, that would be an immense stretch, and because it is, I'm afraid they won't chuckle at the thought of this chrome-dome Elijah-type flinging sloppy spitballs; instead, they'll pull up their noses. Eeeuuuuwww.
What I'm saying is, I don't know that I can do that speech anymore. I'm too old, just as I'm likely too old for dancing.
So I guess I'll go with Daniel--that's what I'm thinking. In fact, I typed in the title after the speech was written: "Dare to be a Daniel," the title of an old grade school chorus I remember. "Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone. . ."
Except me. I'll pass on the daring thing. After all, I'm sixty, and there are a ton of things--like dancing--that are probably best left behind me.
At least in public.