Or even the bad night.
When my maternal grandmother -- schoolteacher, mother of five daughters, one son and a somewhat ADHD husband* -- was quite old and widowed, she became very outspoken. A proper Victorian, she had raised her children to be modest in their public utterances, so her daughters were horrified. They would chide her, "Mother, you can't talk like that! Not at your age!"
Her reply? "At what age, then, will I be able to speak my mind?"
Y'know what? We don't have forever. Missed chances are often lost and never come again. The old books and gadgets I like are fewer and more fragile with every passing year. I am not going to wait until I'm silver-haired and frail, only to reap a harvest of regrets.
Plus I'm just about certain the U.S. will suffer an economic collapse before I check out. (I'm not cheering it on; I'd love to see us dodge it but bedarned if I know how). Even if that doesn't happen, inflation has already turned what was a respectable amount of money in my youth into pocket change. "Use it or lose it" has never been more true.
So I'm writin' stories, even though it doesn't pay. I blog about politics and whatever else I fancy. I bought a motoscooter, broke my leg, learned to ride. I'm piddling about -- whoops, pedaling about -- on pennyfarthings; I have learned to shoot, climbed sheer rock walls in the Grand Tetons, seen Niagara falls, bought a house, owned an MGB, stared at airships, flown a light plane and helped launch a digital revolution in your TV set. I'm not gonna end up rocking on the porch, wrapped in a shawl, watching the kids zoom by in their jetpacks, wishing I'd Done Things back when I could. If I've gotta buy lions secondhand, so be it, but I'll buy 'em if I want 'em just the same.
* In the very best way: schoolteacher, coach, superintendent of schools, time-motion engineer, tireless one-on-one reformer of the reformable -- and he just loathed FDR, to whom he bore considerable resemblance. I believe he came of age during Teddy Roosevelt's Presidency. TR had made an impression on him. I never met the man and yet I miss him.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
3 months ago