Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
THAT cat-that-swallowed-the-canary look. Radiating bonhomie. But why should the ineffable Doug Hoyte look his most ineff when entertaining those two carrot juice, anti-salt, anti-sugar babes on Morning Barbados? Maybe it’s because Doug, like Bajan husbands everywhere, is rejoicing in the knowledge that, thank God in Heaven, he isn’t married to either of them. He doesn’t have to drink that stuff.
Of course, I may be misjudging Doug. And I’m being over-harsh on the well-meaning ladies, given the unhealthy eating habits of today’s Bajans and consequent problems. I just want us to look at the big picture and put things in perspective.
By the way, I have a friend who went overboard on carrot juice. Guzzled it. Even when his extremities started turning yellow. Until one morning his wife glanced at his most favoured extremity and sang : “Yellow bird, you look kinda strange to me; yellow bird, should I call you ‘Can-a-ry’?” Fortunately, the name didn’t stick and the carrot-juice addiction didn’t last so all’s well.
My point here is, however, that many of us are living to ripe, and, over-ripe, old ages, enjoying health and life in general without resorting to carrot juice and cucumber water and pretending they’re fit for human consumption. So what will those strict, unpalatable, masochistic diets achieve?
The hard reality is that old age is a brute. True, my friend Melville Williams, master saddler, is 102 and looking to start new business. Another fit friend who checks deliveries at Northern Lumber Company is pushing 88. The mother-in-law, who still gardens, sews and cooks (and eats anything), hit 89 last Monday. And a gent was in the NATION recently forking at 100. Power to them all.
But for most of us life starts to wind down in the 70s through no fault of our own. My wife, for instance, used to play “Gear-stick” every night in bed – “Voom, first gear, voom voom, back in two, voom, three and four, voom, back a third!” I went to sleep a happy man. Now I can’t even get her to shove it into “Park” before keeling over to snore.
Some fortunate old people get to live out their days with their children. But most young adults nowadays don’t have time for oldsters. They have plasmas to watch, cruises to take. And the option often comes down to living by yourself in terrible loneliness. Or facing the three most dreaded words in our language . . . “Looking into homes”.
Sure there are homes where they try their best to fit you in with an assortment of strangers. But many are glorified prisons. Up at 4 am to bathe with a nurse watching so you can’t even play with Dooley.
I see happy old people. But I see too many old people who beg the Lord every night to let them die. I see them cry every time they reflect on having had to leave their home and all their cherished possessions.
And for this I should drink carrot juice and cucumber water? No, my friends, life is now. Enjoy it to the fullest. Don’t overeat. Cut down on the fast foods. But, be damn, don’t pass up on the occasional bread and two, ham cutter or pudding and souse. Food is about the only pleasure we oldsters have left. Let us therefore eat, drink and be merry.
Which is what we did at Ridley Greene’s birthday bash at the Bush Bar last Sunday night. Lord have mercy, when I thought no more could hold, two bus loads of miscellaneous females arrived. The ladies all share the same view of Ridley: “No hard feelings”, one told me, “that about sums him up. Take it whichever way you like!”
Music sweet, Kaymar Jordan looking good, Roy P Byer holding forth, a Combermerian named Lester describing my writing in vivid sexual terminology. Women I don’t know lap dancing and working up on me while everyone enjoyed my discomfiture.
The food was great and I was hungry. But after seeing Andy Ingrahm’s plate with the breadfruit barely scotching on top a mountain of fried pork, souse, lamb stew and God knows what else, I had to hold back lest the visitors there think all we Bajan white people are gormandizers. The dietitians would’ve been pleased.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email [email protected]