The other morning the phone rang, and it was my friend Doug. He lives in Corsicana and we talk once or twice a week. I picked up the phone and said, "Hi, Doug," the way we do now that we are usually looking at a picture of the person by the time we've answered.
Doug said hi and asked me what I was up to. I said not anything, really, and right off there was something a little odd. Doug asked if it was cold in Dallas and I said it was. He said it was freezing in Corsicana, which was no real surprise since Corsicana is only about fifty miles south of Dallas. We talked for only a minute or so longer and Doug said, well, so long.
Has it come to this? I wondered. Are we now men who call one another to talk about the weather? Is this the latest insult of middle age?
There had been other recent signs. My shoes still come untied with the frequency they did when I was in third grade. When I notice an untied shoe, I no longer kneel where I am and take care of it. I look for a step or a bench to bring the shoe closer to my hands rather than my going to it.
And there's a sound I've heard my father make for years. It's as much a gurgle as a burp, and certainly no proper belch. I am sorry to say that I have heard the sound come from myself. Thank God it is not as liquid as the sound my father makes, and it continues to be related directly to eating rather than putting in random, uncalled-for appearances, but I can see what direction this is heading.
I was mentally thanking Doug for this current onslaught of shades of the prison house, when the phone rang. Doug's picture was again on the display.
I answered, "Hi Doug."
Doug said, "Hi. Hey, I just remembered why I called the first time."