Growing Old With Sam de B and The Judge

My Darling Loving Partner has done a wonderful job, over the years, transforming our house by the river – new roof, new floorings, new carpet, new built-ins – all done with her impeccable taste, made possible by a perceptive eye for colour and detail. Why, she’s even created for me the pure joy of a man cave, to make my life totally complete. And she has not finished. She has plans. The rear of the kitchen is in her sights. It is to be extended out to add some spaciousness. Then there’s the bathroom – but that does have me a tad concerned, dear reader.

In his regular column for my favourite former broadsheet, Sam de Brito recently riffed on the displeasures of growing older in ‘The Humiliations of Ageing’. For those of us in the autumnal years, as if we didn’t already know, he considerately lists such blows to one’s already fragile ego as ‘…when you go for a haircut now, your barber asks you pleasantly if you’d like your eyebrows done as well.’ and ‘Glancing up, you glimpse a crusty old fat bloke looking at you from the adjoining shop window and jolt with the realisation it’s you.’ But for Sam de B, the ugly reality of advancing years is measured by the increasing difficulties associated with, in the bleary-eyed, possibly hung-overed early morning hours, of attending to one’s lower garments. In other words, getting them on. He refers to undies, boxers and shorts. S de B cites examples of some serious indignities, even injuries, occurring when misjudgements are made, due to haste and lack of balance, associated with the difficult manoeuvres needed to emerge fully clothed in the area of the bottom half. It is indeed, as he desired, chortle inducing reading – if only it wasn’t such a common affliction for men around my age.

sam-debrito.

But, proudly. I have that all sorted. My foolproof method – with heavy emphasis on the ‘fool’ bit – is to place said garment flat on the floor, then, one at a time, wriggle/creep each foot into each said opening, then reach down and pull up. Simple. It’s when jeans or trousers are involved that my method comes up sorely lacking. I had found myself regularly crashing into furniture or, worse, face-planting a horizontal surface formerly positioned under my feet. Socks provided similar consternation – and it was then I discovered the secondary usefulness of our bathroom’s basin/benchtop – thus my concerns at my gorgeous lady’s plans.

Now my DLP is not satisfied with this essential item’s height. In her reckoning it needs to be raised a good couple of inches so bending down, almost in half, before it is no longer a necessity. On the contrary, I find it just peachy when it comes to satisfactorily coming to grips with the problems two socks and long-legged pants cause me. You see, at its height now I can place my posterior gently on the lip of the unit, carefully leaning back into it as socks or trousers are raised up my two appendages. In doing so, all danger of toppling over is thus eliminated. If it was raised higher, then the snugness of the fit is lost. It would spell potential disaster. I would need to resort to adopting the ‘commando roll’ method Sam advises – and what a most unedifying sight that would make. That is not to be confused with ‘going commando’. I would never succumb to that temptation as it is the longer form of attire that causes most angst. But, I guess, as a foil to concussion, the ‘roll’ it would have to be. The problem is not going to go away, so for now I have a fall back plan, but what of the future?

That was bought home to me through accompanying DLP to view ‘The Judge’ – a very fine cinema piece currently on offer at most multiplexes. It features Robert Downey Jr in the sort of role he now has down (good play on words there) pat. He’s a smarmy, cynical, wise-cracking defence lawyer noted for getting the seriously guilty off the hook. His mother’s death sees him reluctantly returning home to Hicksville, USA to confront his past. Estranged for some time from his father, the town’s judge, he soon notes all is not as it should be with his old man. Age has seriously diminished him in more ways that one – and is compounded when he is accused of killing the local scumbag in hit and run style. As the crusty, newly vulnerable old bugger, Robert Duvall is mesmerising. In narrative terms the story has been done over and over – pretty soon you know how it’ll all work out and Hollywood doesn’t let you down. The magic of this piece is in the performances, particularly by the venerable Duvall. It is hard to imagine he’s well into his eighties now. We have all watched him age on screen over the years. It gives pause for thought to realise he might not be able to be up there for much longer. He still possesses serious acting chops, but then, as an ensemble piece, this movie takes a bit of beating.

Judge

There’s a blast from the past as far as Downey’s character Henry Palmer’ s love life is concerned with his high school sweetheart, Samantha Power, now quite the local entrepreneur out to charm and dazzle. She’s engagingly played by Vera Farmiga, an actress who, unlike the rest of us, seems to become more luscious as she heads towards her fifties and beyond. Very affecting are Henry’s two brothers, played by Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong – and Billy Bob Thornton is effective as the imported prosecutor. The whole shebang is quite superb, even given the predictability of the outcome.

But it was the scene where Judge Palmer loses control of his bowels, in his son’s presence, that really got to me with this movie. That, Sam de B, is the real humiliation of ageing. Is that me in times to come – is that what lies ahead?

Mr de Brito’s musings on the pitfalls of the years passing, in terms of one’s battles with garments not really designed for those increasingly unsupple due to the ravages of lives well lived, is a delightful read. As for this scribbler – well Sam, I don’t really want to be one day like that dog you mentioned, farting and shuffling my way into the twilight and losing control. I want my sunset to be better than that. I suppose we all do.

Sam de Brito’s column = http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-humiliations-of-ageing-20141029-11cxwi.html

Trailer for ‘The Judge’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRHXo8_PeZM

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