Every time my wife and I leave the grocery store, me pushing the cart across the lot by her side… she knows what to expect. But I can’t help it. I am overwhelmed by an irresistible urge. Without warning I take off running with the cart, (I can hear her behind me mumbling “Oh for Pete’s sake…) then I jump on the back of the cart and ride! I know, I know. It’s not very mature behavior for someone who is approaching 60 years old. But in my defense… well… I just don’t care. It’s fun and for a fleeting moment the worries of the world melt away and I’m a kid again. Actually, I’m pretty good at it and I seldom run over anyone or crash, so besides looking like an idiot… what’s the big deal?
If you ask me, having fun when you’re of a mature age has gotten a bad rap and people are way too uptight with their “play prejudice”. Yep…I just made that term up, but it’s true non-the-less. Sure, there are respectable ways to have fun… we call it recreation, a.k.a. biking, skiing, golfing, running (ugh!), fishing… but I think that these are way too organized and goal oriented to qualify as true play. The need to play like a kid is inside all of us no matter what age we are… it just takes a little nudge and a quick look over the shoulder to release the eight year old.
There is also a particular social phenomenon that seems to help things get started… at least for men. The more of us that get together, the younger and dumber we get. So, given the opportunity and enough guys, we will demonstrate types of behavior that are not just undignified but downright dangerous, irresponsible and stupid. But that is a rare occurrence… well… pretty rare.
Case in point. At a recent pool party, four of us (all guys over 50) were hanging out in the corner having a way too serious conversation about what was wrong with the world and everyone else but us, when my friend Bill, ran past us and jumped into the pool completing a rather lame cannonball. We all looked at each other and shook our balding, graying heads. “That was stupid,” I said, polishing off my beverage and setting it on the table. My buddies all nodded. Then I added “Watch this!” and I launched myself into a beautiful and purposeful belly whopper. SMACK! “Ohhhhhh!” yelled everyone. And then…it was on! One after another we launched ourselves into higher and more painful belly whoppers, our skin turning beet red. The only guy not participating was some twenty-year-old who was apparently trying to act mature. (Kids!) Of course our wives didn’t seem to share our zeal for this type of play, (except for my wife Lori, whose competitive nature finally caused her to launch her petite frame ala cannonball into the sloshing water of the pool). Being the only adults left, our wives kept yelling something about breaking our necks or permanent brain damage… I’m not sure, for some reason I can’t remember… but we kept on until Mike pulled off a back breaker… a high flip that landed him with a loud “pop” flat on his back. All the guys screamed in delight and then laughed hysterically as his limp fire-truck red carcass was pulled from the pool by his wife. Ahhhh! Good Friends! It was a good day.
Now, I’m not recommending this particular behavior, but I am a big fan of a wide variety of simple fun like sliding around on tile floors in my socks, shooting spitballs at my buddies as they’re trying to talk on their cell phone at lunch, or eating their French fries when they’re not looking. It’s not that I don’t take life seriously… I do. But because I do take it seriously, it’s worth enjoying it while we’re here and while we’re able. You’re only young once… so why not make it last a long time. Jump on your carts and ride my friends!