I had a running commentary with a younger friend this past year about how very old I am.
But for much longer it has been a running commentary with my son, Nicholas.
Lifting up a box of books, back going out on our weekly hike, or just moving slowly on a weekday morning, I can say, “Poppa is so …” and my son, having heard the line so many times, heartily fills in the correct answer: “… old!”
“Yes,” I reply.
Tuesday night we had a staff meeting for work at the bowling alley Sky Lanes in Asheville, followed by Favilla’s pizza and, obviously, bowling. Nicholas joined us midway.
I had a good second game (223) and won the Altamont Environmental, Inc. bowling trophy. Yes, it turns out there is such a thing. Afterward, me and the person with the second highest score were, for whatever reason, talking about our advancing ages. (He is just a baby, really.)
I called over Nicholas, so he could deliver his line.
“Nicholas,” I said, “Poppa is so …”
He was smiling ear to ear but didn’t say anything.
I repeated: “Nicholas, Poppa is so …”
“BEAUTIFUL!” he exclaimed happily.
I should have said, “Thank you!” But I was surprised and waiting for Nicholas to say what he always does, so I repeated again:
“Nicholas, Poppa is so …”
“What?” he replied.
“What do you usually say? Poppa is so …”
“AMAZING!” he said.
This time I thanked him. “Thank you, buddy. But you say ‘old.’ Poppa is so old.”
“Yes,” he said.