Muttering through upper middle age

Burt's Eye View

“Sweetie, can you come here a minute?”

I think that’s what she said. The older my wife gets, the harder she is to hear.

“Be right there.” I rocked my easy chair once, twice, three times. When I reached sufficient momentum for launch, I fumbled out of the old thing amid much creaking, squeaking and popping. The chair creaked some, too.

I hobbled a couple steps until I found my rhythm. I was by her side lickety-split, barely two or three minutes later. “Here I am. What do you need?”

“I, uh…” Terry stared blankly. “Well… I don’t remember.”

I leaned against the wall and rubbed the sore spot on my hip. “Middle age is rough.”

“Don’t you mean it WAS rough?”

“IS,” I said. “Middle age is generally defined as between 45 and 65.”

“More like 35 to 60.”

I squinted at my pill box. Did I take today’s mess? What day was today anyway? Nuts. “Let’s split the difference,” I said. “Maybe we’re APPROACHING upper middle age.”

“Objects in the mirror might be closer than they appear,” she muttered. I think that’s what she said.

“Stop mumbling. That’s what people in upper middle age do — they mumble a lot. Mostly to themselves.”

She arched her eyebrows. “Like what?”

“Upper middle age people walk around muttering things like, ‘What was I going to say?,’ ‘Where did I leave my phone?’ and ‘What did I come in here for?'”

“What DID you come in here for?” She held a can as far away as her arms would stretch and tried to make out the fine print. Label makers print those words smaller every year. “I wish I knew where I left my reading glasses.”

“On top of your head,” I said. “You’ve got two pairs stashed up there.”

“Oh. Thanks.” She lowered one set of goggles and read the label.

I glanced around the kitchen walls. A little bit of paint probably would cover that crack. I flipped the page on the “500 Uses for Milk Jug Rings, Paper Tubes and Twist Ties” giant-type wall calendar. I should check the recycling bins for stuff we can use. I studied my reflection in a soup ladle. Either it had sprouted hair in strange places or I had. I wiped the ladle on my really-relaxed-fit slacks and tossed it in the drawer.

“So,” I said, “what was it I wanted to ask you?”

“I don’t know. You’re the one that came in here.” She peered over her reading glasses. “Did you wear that shirt with those pants to work today?”

“I guess so. Why?”

“Don’t you care how you look in public?”

“Not for the last 12 or 15 years. I gave up caring about what other people think in middle-middle age.”

“At least wear pants that still button.” Terry sighed. “Grab that bowl from on top of the fridge.”

I reached. “Great. The dryer goes around shrinking everything, but the refrigerator keeps growing taller. What kind of weird place is this?”

“The, uh, ‘Upper’ Middle Age Zone,” Terry mumbled.

“Well, it’s nuts,” I said. “You need to put on a sweater. I’m cold.”


“Forget it. My ankles ache, my back’s sore and I think I sprained my nose. I’m going back to my chair.”

Amid much creaking, squeaking and popping, I shuffled back to the living room, reached for the remote and turned up the TV. Alex Trebek sure mumbles a lot since he reached upper middle age.

— Write loudly to the geezer at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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