Keeping score

I recently wrote a column that balanced my shock at turning 60 against the shocking realization that some people don’t get to turn 60. In that column, I referred to my 80 year old friend, Jim Morrison.

Now Jim is many things: he’s a giant. He’s affable. He’s quite an historian. Antique collector. Classic car buff. Jim Morrison is many things, but as it turned out he is not 80. I received an IM that indignantly informed me he was only 70 and 3/4.

I apologized straight away and I posted a penitant facebook post to correct my mistake. It brought many a laugh, many comments. However, the great man himself was silent. Not one comment. Not one insult. I worried about that a bit.

I think quite a lot of the old coot so I sent out an IM to him and apologized from the heart.

His cryptic reply came. “You’ll pay.”

Friday night, we were at the camper. Tim was already in bed. I was getting William set up on the couch. I heard a car door, and I saw my sister and brother-in-law heading over. I told Tim he’d better get dressed.

We sat in the living room talking about this and that as the lightning bugs flicked on and off outside the windows. Suddenly, I noticed the glow of what appeared to be a huge lightning bug. I said, “What IS that?” and everybody looked. Quite suddenly the light was right at the window where my sister was sitting and we could see plainly that it was an illuminated skull.

William let out a shriek and dove face first into my lap, hiding his eyes. “Make it go away!” he wailed. My sister leapt to her feet. This became a matter of much debate later. Some thought she’d been scared. She claimed that she was headed out the door to confront the miscreant. I tend to believe her because she was out that door before the rest of us could collect our wits.

When my sister reappeared, she was dragging along a bearded, laughing giant. Yes sir, it was that Jim Morrison from down the road. The man was there to collect payment for my unfortunate column.

William got over his fear quickly enough. He loves Halloween and has quite a collection of “spookedy” decorations of his own. As Jim talked, William recognized him as a kindred spirit, another kid. Of course, Jim was quite a bit taller than any kid he’d met before, and kindergartners don’t generally have that much facial hair, but William accepted him despite his physical peculiarities.

“That’s why I don’t like the dark very much,” William explained. “I knew that the day would come when there would be a skull outside my window…” and we all just about fell on the floor laughing.

By the time that Jim left, I considered the debt settled. Turned out that I was as wrong about that as I was about the 80 years.

Fast forward two days. Tim and I skipped church because Dylan was coming for a visit and we were not certain what time he was coming in. Brianna and William did go to church and they stopped in afterwards to wait for Dylan.

William was about to burst. “Grandma, there’s nothing going on today. We have no plans today. We’re not doing nuthing.” Probably the 17th time I heard that in a 20 minute period, I was pretty sure that something was up.

It was. The kids and my sister had gotten together and planned a surprise 60th birthday party for Tim and I. When we were brought to the pavillion there was quite a bit of hubbub initially, laughter and hugs and greetings all around, but I heard someone say, “Who’s that?” I turned to catch the profile of a tall bearded man hunkered low over a walker, making slow progress to the pavillion.

I recognized Jim Morrison’s profile and immediately knew what he was up to. I headed his way to give him what-for, but it was too late. Cameras were whirring and people were laughing. He really had himself rigged right up. A ziplock bag filled with vinegar was pinned to his belt loop with some tubing for a realistic touch.

“I don’t know what happened,” he told the adoring assemblage. “One minute I was fine, the next day, I read in the newspaper that I was 80, and all the strength just left my body….” He shook his white head sadly.The big ham was putting on quite the show. When I made some wise crack back to him, he lifted a horn to his ear and asked me to speak louder.

Jim wasn’t finished. He gave me a package of Depends, and a special shampoo “because I was getting pretty gray headed.” Although Tim had nothing to do with the column, he got some bean-o, presumably for being an old fart.

The party was a lot of fun, and Jim sat there enjoying himself mightily. When I promised revenge, he just smiled agreeably and pointed out that he was two up on me already.

Jim has a lot of fun just being Jim, and I’m pretty sure that if a person is not grown up by the time that they reach 70-3/4, well, we just have to accept that fact that it is not going to happen. Furthermore, now that I know that growing up is optional, I’m going to have a lot more fun being me.

That big kid down the road in Grand Valley better watch his step. There’s a new kid in town, and I heard she has a score to settle.


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