Some Rosemary Advice About Thyme and Life

Did you like the title? Thought this was going to be about food again, didn’t you? It’s not. It’s just some ponderings, doodles if you will, about not much of anything. And everything.

At some point in my life, and not that long ago, I became old. We used to joke when I was in my early thirties that it was the perfect age to be, just on the far side of the thirtieth trip around the sun. You were old enough to be somewhat mysterious, if the girl were young enough, youthful enough to date that same girl and hopefully still mobile enough in life to move if the relationship soured too fast.

The rest of my thirties changed all that. Despite all the predictions to the contrary, I did get married. I would like to think there was a collective moment of silence amongst all the available single girls at that moment, a second of recognition that I was no longer available, so to speak. I know there was no such moment, that, if anything, all the single women either breathed a sigh of relief or, if told, wore a collective group of puzzled looks, followed by a single question: “Who?”

Most men have that fantasy. At least once. Most of us don’t hang on to an altered scope of reality, as life takes us by the ass and fast forwards from the moment we get down on one knee with a small, inordinately expensive stone meant to be worn on a single finger offered as a token of our undying love and an everlasting symbol of fidelity.

The geologist in me gasped in horror when I purchased the ring that my wife now still wears, ten years later. Well versed in the Bowen’s Reaction Series, I could not believe, and still have trouble accepting, that I had spent that much money on one of the least stable naturally occurring minerals, if you call it such, on the planet. The knowledge that it would still last a few million years, give or take, a mere hiccup in geologic time, helped. Some.

But time does pass, quickly, and the diamond? Well, it was large enough to cause envy, yet small enough to be almost ergonomic. Not too ergonomic though. I had no illusions: There was going to be times when I would not be with my wife, and I wanted to make sure that the symbol of my love, my stamp, my claim on this women, would be prominent and unmistakable for what it was. I did not want any other chest thumping, potentially aggressive competitive male apes to look upon this modern equivalent to a brand and think: “I could buy that with card money!”

In the decade or so, give or take some time, that I have spent living up to what I thought were my wife’s expectations (vague and impossible), and then living up to what I thought were her parents’ expectations (more clearly defined, but still impossible), I have realized a few things. One, her expectations of me are vastly less complicated than I thought. Once I removed all the trappings of my own ego from my opinion of what might be what she expected from me, my life became much simpler. What had once been an overwhelmingly impossible feat of strength became more of a leisurely, and far more enjoyable, vacation in Bali, if you can follow my attempts at metaphor.

In line with this style of thinking, my life went from, say, a jaunt behind enemy lines with a bucket of water in an attempt to douse hell, to a walk on the beach at sunset. I finally have begun to realize a number of things about life, and I will, in the style of one who has a right to say what he thinks, attempt to share a few of them with you, in no particular order. Forgive me ladies, as this is meant to be for the male reader, although I think you will find my attempt at sage advice to be amusing.

  • Don’t worry about your wife becoming old fat, and uninteresting. You will get there much faster than she will.
  • Don’t beat yourself up too terribly much about being old, fat and uninteresting. You can lose weight, and read more. There’s nothing you can do about getting old.
  • If you need it, there is Viagra. Chances are, you won’t need it.
  • Marry for love. Don’t look for the perfect match, mate or sugar momma. If you are madly in love with her, or him, that’s enough.
  • Stop looking around to see if anyone is interested in sleeping with you. Chances are, someone is. Chances are, it won’t be worth it.
  • If you are going to drink to excess, start early in the morning. You’ll only ruin one day, instead of two.
  • Never go into a bar to solve a problem. No problems are ever solved in a bar.
  • That intern at work? The one with the amazing ass, who seems to just always need your help and is always willing to “stay late if you need her?” Be flattered, and go home. It’s a phase. She’ll get over it, move on, forget about it and have a life. You’ll get divorced, lose your kids, never get over it, never more on and end up alone. Without a life.
  • There is nothing more satisfying than being old enough to call someone who isn’t, “Son.”
  • Don’t buy the red convertible.
  • If you are working too much to spend time with your kids, stop working so goddamn much. What are you trying to prove, anyway? Do you really think going to college is going to replace early bonding time? Or a trip to a train museum?
  • Fuck work anyway.
  • Speaking of work, do what you love. The money may not come. But, you’ll be happy. Your wife, if you chose well, will be too.
  • You get old and then you die. Sometimes you don’t get to be old, and you die anyway. See the “Fuck work” and “Do what you love” comments above for qualification.
  • Love your wife all the time. If you get the urge to call her a bitch behind her back, kiss her instead. She knows that you are thinking she’s a bitch. Chances are, she’s not thinking much of you at the moment either. The kiss will save the day and just might get you laid.
  •  Sex gets better. You didn’t think that, did you?
  • Stop thinking about tomorrow so much. Think about today, right now!
  • Stop thinking about what you are going to leave behind, your manifestation of destiny, your mark on the world. Where are your wife and kids right now? Why the hell are you still reading this? Why the fuck am I still sitting here wri

Don’t Blink.

The white dashes become a solid blur. I hear nothing. With my helmet thrumming on the gas tank in time to the rousing chorus of four pistons howling, screaming to redline, sensory deprivation is complete. There is nothing else. Nothing else matters.

The brake markers appear too soon, flashing by on my right as I mentally prepare for the turn. Or do I? I certainly don’t remember ever preparing for a turn, mentally or otherwise. There is a brief moment of wonder as I begin to count the markers down, subconsciously. There is the sudden traffic to my left, at a standstill compared to the speed I and a few others are carrying into this decreasing apex right corkscrew of a turn.

I wonder at my speed. How fast, I think? 200 mph? Faster? Slower? It doesn’t matter, not at all. What matters at this moment is the bluffing game happening at the speed of thought in front of me. The slower, more novice riders are bailing, afraid or unable to maintain the speed required to pin the turn. No faith. Fearful.

This memory staggers me as I struggle to wake up. Two years into this battle with this disease and I feel the toll. Not very often, but more than before. My body won’t respond. My brain is screaming at me to just get up. I can hear my wife preparing breakfast and my two year old son repeating his morning demand for his daddy. “Daddy, daddy, daddy.” Over and over and over.

My arms begin to work, my brain takes over my body and I swing my feet to the floor. More or less upright, the next step now is to clear my head, get some feeling back in my extremities and rise. Sometimes this is immediate, requiring no thought. Sometimes, it takes a lot of thought.

The apex of the turn approaches, now right in my face. Right there. There is no escaping this. No wishing it away. This moment arrives as surely as breathing, as inevitable as death. Brake or die. Brake too soon and lose. If I flinch for only an instant, other riders will dive beneath me and take the apex. In the straightaway to follow, I will certainly lose my place with the front-runners. If I flinch.

If I don’t? Provided my tired motorcycle, in dire need of an engine rebuild and better tires holds up down the stretch, I will surely place second. Maybe third. I know better than to hope for first. The leader is a master. A true enigma. Only a devastating engine failure could harm his lead. At 200 mph, one second covers a lot of ground. Two thousand, nine hundred feet, give or take a foot or three. That’s a lot of linear earth to travel in one second.

My helmet thrums harder and I get ready for the inevitable reactions that will happen in the next few milliseconds. I have a choice. I can continue, throttle pinned, straight into the wall. Or, I can sit up straight, downshift three times as I grab the front brake lever with three fingers, maxing rpm’s for each shift, feathering the rear brake to avoid spinning out into the apex of the following sweeper, using my torso as a parachute of sorts, and stay in the race. The decision is inevitable.

I get to my feet, waiting for the vortex to stop spinning, and make my way across the bedroom into the bathroom, still stumbling a bit, pins and needles erupting all over my body as toxins begin to descend from healing muscle tissue, intestinal walls, and abdominal fluids into my circulatory system and finally mainlining into my brain stem. I wait for the cruel emotionless slap of memory loss, only a few seconds in duration, with my hand flat on the sink, my toothbrush, forgotten for the moment, drowning and softening in warm, then hot water. It passes. I’m upright. Ready for another day.

Twelve years earlier, with adrenaline slamming through my veins, I forgot the wall and pinned it all on a victory. Tired motor straining, I sat up straight and dove for the apex of the turn, picking off two more riders on my way to third place. There were no fiery crashes or moments of glory. Just me, on a worn open class race bike, with my thirtieth birthday around the corner, accepting that I was not quite good enough to beat the big dogs.

I did run with them though. As breakfast smells fill up the house and I face the small whirlwind of affection and temper of a not-quite-three little boy who looks like his Mom and acts like me, I realize that was enough. More than enough.

I’m blessed with another day.