"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An "Old Timer," dadgummit!

Reality check, today, first day of class at UCO.
I've been called many things as a professor, some affectionately and some definitely "unaffectionate," to say the least. I take pride in being somewhat of a "curmudgeon," and a
"Old Timer," 3"x4" pen and ink
"geezer"--those words seem to add a certain stature and legend when applied to a person. All those terms are better than the stereotypical and condescendingly bland "senior citizen." 
I even joke about it, when asked my age, as being around "since dirt was young." I don't even mind referring to myself as "the old dog" in the department.
I'll also admit to have recently completed another revolution of the sun, and while I'm older, I don't really feel it, or act like it, or think that way--for the most part. I'm not known for patience with slow people, or moving slowly, either walking or driving. Just ask those who will still ride with me. I like being around younger people (not necessarily their music though). Male vanity being what it is, I do refer to myself as "old" sometimes to get some pity or compliments, but I do my best not to look or sound old, and try to at least not be a dinosaur. I like change and new ideas. There's so much new exciting stuff to learn.
But I guess it's all for "naught "(there's an old term).
So I was standing at the copier today, getting ready for class, outside a colleague's office behind me. She had a student in there, and from the conversation, I knew he was leaving. With my back turned, I didn't hear him coming, and moved into the door way.
This tall handsome kid with a big smile bumped into me, grabbed me so I wouldn't fall, and quickly and non-chalantly said,
"Oh, excuse me, 'Old Timer.'" He laughed, I laughed and we went our separate ways.
"Old Timer"? 
It sunk in. So that's what I look like? That's what they think? I walked down the hall to the office and told a younger professor (they're all younger these days) and our young administrative assistant, and they started laughing, with me. Now that I think about it, they were probably laughing, as they thought, "He probably gets it now."
What's your image of an "Old Timer"? Mine is an old fart with a grizzled beard, stooped over, wearing a dirty slouch hat, suspenders over a plaid shirt holding up baggy pants, walking with  a cane and shuffling along.
Gabby Hayes
I also thought about Walter Brennan, and Gabby Hayes, Western movie characters who played opposite John Wayne and others.  Brennan died in 1974, intelligent and talented enough to be one of three people to win three Oscars, playing old timers and hicks. Hayes, who died in 1959, intelligent, well-groomed and articulate,  was cast as a grizzled codger who uttered phrases like "consarn it," "yer durn tootin'," "dadgummit," "durn persnickety female," and "young whippersnapper."
I went in to tell my slightly younger wife about being an "Old Timer," and mentioned Gabby Hayes.
"Who's Gabby Hayes?" Susan  asked. I told her. "Must be from your generation," said she.
"Well 'tarnation and dadgummit," sez this "Old Timer." Where are my suspenders?

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