High Desert Sketches: How You Know You’re Getting Old In The Big Bend

High Desert Sketches: How You Know You’re Getting Old In The Big Bend

[George Covington is a local photographer, columnist and celebrity whom people from all walks of life treasure as an inspiration. Born legally blind, with less than ten percent of normal vision, George first achieved national attention for using photography as a seeing tool. Read more of his thoughts at the Alpine Avalanche.]

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they begin to discuss “aging”. It generally occurs late in life during a period called (among other things) The Golden Years where people are described as “Silver Seniors” and their music is described as “Golden Oldies”. I frankly would have tried to avoid this period in my life but unfortunately it seems unavoidable. It evokes a question that goes back to the dawn of time… “How do you know when you’re getting old?”

Un Viejo

Un Viejo, J. J. Burro

This question was asked while I was sipping my daily free gourmet coffee at Ivey’s Emporium. This perk, one of many for us among the Alpine media elite (and anybody else who wanders through the front door), helps me contemplate both the universe the validity of vegetarianism and my next column.

The question was asked by June Cobb a mover and shaker in Alpine’s vast art community. “I guess I must be getting old because I’ve just discovered my earlobes have wrinkles,” she told me. Later, Chuck, her husband of 55 years assured me that he has always been turned on by earlobe wrinkles.

I decided to probe this eternal question with some of the leading luminaries of the last frontier, some of whom got here when it was the first frontier. Chet Sample, former Dean of Professional Studies at Sul Ross State University has been at the citadel of learning so long he can remember waving at the Comanches on their raids into Mexico.

“You know you’re getting old when you teach the children of your former students and you know you’re really getting old when you teach their grandchildren,” he says.

Personally I realized I was a victim of the aging process when the phone would ring on a Saturday night and I hoped it was a wrong number. It also hit me when I suddenly realized that I could use the expression “been there done that, but don’t remember most of it.” This means I can tell White House secrets to my peers because there’s no way they will every remember what I say.

Tom Roberts has a philosophical approach to the aging question. “I don’t mind getting old, I just mind getting ugly. However having been ugly for a long time, getting old is becoming a real pleasure.” Readers must remember from previous columns that Tom, a longtime retired airline executive, claims to have regular lunches with Jimmy Hoffa and knows exactly where Amelia Earhart is buried in the Terlingua grave yard (or was it the other way around?).

Joan Crowder has a more practical approach. “I decided I was getting old when I debated whether to walk to the post office or drive,” she said. “Luckily I was spotted before my legs gave out by an attractive young man who gave me a lift. I might try that again,” she adds. Of course there will always be those people who think they can defy the laws of gravity and aging. I say gravity because, haven’t you noticed that everything seems to hang straight down when you get older? One prime example of this is Alpine’s electronic media mogul Radio Ray Hendrix.

“Some of us don’t get old,” he says.

Ray, a proud old salt, seems to forget that when he joined the Navy as a young man their biggest warship was a canoe. Several weeks ago Ray tried to repeat his Navy experience with his grandchildren, missed the canoe and almost slept with the fishes, but of course he doesn’t remember all of it.

To give the old Aggie his due I’m certain he has not forgotten any of the secret initiation rituals practiced by former inhabitants of Texas A&M, an east Texas institution. The ritual which is said to involve goat blood, stale beer, and toenail clippings cannot be forgotten because it is demonstrated in comic book fashion through tattoos on hidden parts of Aggie bodies.

I may get old but making jokes about Aggies never will.

One thought on “High Desert Sketches: How You Know You’re Getting Old In The Big Bend

  1. Frank George

    I especially like the professor’s comment about teaching the grandkids…now that’s funny and a very real definition of tenure. :-))