By Tim Hayes

The doctor stood in front of the exam table, where I had just returned after having X-rays taken a few minutes earlier.

“Hmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Yeah, I can see it now.”

“See what, doctor?”

“You have arthritis behind both kneecaps.”

Arthritis?  Me?  How has this happened?  I thought my knees were just a little sore from starting a regular twice-a-week workout with a professional trainer.  You know, like the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz.”  This was just a case of some creaks getting limbered up again, and a touch of soreness while the old bones got oiled up.  Surely not arthritis.  That’s what old people have to deal with.

But then I remembered two other experiences the same week that seemed to be making the same point – I’m getting old.  It’s time to start fighting the fogey.  The old fogey.

Doing two professional friends a favor, I agreed to appear as a guest speaker to two separate Public Relations classes at a local university.  You don’t realize the absolute disconnect between the frame of reference a classroom full of 20-year-olds has and the one you have until you open your mouth in their presence and try to make a point.

“I got interested in journalism when I was in high school,” I said.  “The two guys that inspired me the most were Woodward and Bernstein.”

Blank stares.  The occasional blink.  Side glances all around.  Crickets chirping.  They had absolutely no clue who I was talking about.

“Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  The two reporters from the Washington Post who exposed the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down.”

More crickets.

“Check your history books.  It’s all in there.”

Later that evening, as I thought about it, the students’ complete ignorance of what, to me, remained a major life news event, began to make a little more sense.  Watergate reached its apex in 1974 when Nixon resigned.  That’s 42 years ago.  If a guest speaker came to my college classroom in 1980 and made a reference to something that happened 42 years in the past, it would be something from 1938, like the Anschluss, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria!  Even before World War II began!

So no wonder they looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars.  I probably taught them one of the most important principles of good communication – by violating it in such spectacular fashion.  Know your audience.

Maybe I can chalk that particular brain-fart up to a sense that fuddy-duddy-dom is rapidly encroaching, encircling, enveloping me.  That, plus my increasingly rickety old knees.

Gosh, you never appreciate what a pounding you take during an hour-long Roman Catholic Mass until you have knee pain.  Standing, sitting, standing, sitting, kneeling, standing, kneeling, sitting, and standing again.  They ought to pass out towels next to the holy water, for goodness’ sake.

After two shots of cortisone in the doc’s office, the knees have begun to get back to normal.  I’ll keep going to my workouts and talking to college classes.  I’ll keep doing what I do and maintain a healthy, happy, youthful attitude – or at least I’ll try.

Now, what the hell are those kids doing on my lawn?  Excuse me…

Copyright 2016 Timothy P. Hayes