Column

Wimbiscus: Getting old and cold is getting really old

Published:
BILL WIMBISCUS[]

For a brand new year, 2018 already feels pretty old.

Guess I should have known better going in.

Sara and I attended an age-appropriate New Year’s Eve party, that is to say one with geezers our own age, mostly 50- and 60-somethings.

The event seemed specifically catered to people from our era, complete with buckets of cheap domestic beer, ‘70s folk rock and, best of all, an early 4 p.m. start followed by an 8 p.m. virtual countdown and champagne toast.

Just the ticket for a couple of Last Wave Baby Boomers, right?

Well, maybe not. We only made it to 6 p.m. before we got tired and left.

Pathetic, I know.

It wasn’t always like this. 

Fifteen years ago, we’d celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends until at least 2 a.m., then head out late the next morning to watch the brave and stupid jump in the river at Channahon’s Big Basin Marina.

Next, we’d meet up with the rest of the pack for a tavern brunch complete with Bloody Marys, and then head home for a well-earned afternoon nap.

Now that’s how you ring in a New Year.

But over the last decade, that ringing has sounded progressively softer. Our 2 a.m. cutoff eventually became 1 a.m., 1 a.m. eventually became 12:30 a.m., 12:30 a.m. eventually became midnight, midnight eventually became “I’m too tired to go out, let’s just stay home this year.” 

So, too, with our next morning activities. Our Big Basin rendezvous followed by Bloody Mary brunch eventually just became a Bloody Mary brunch. And this year – gasp – I had brunch without the traditional Bloody Mary. And couldn’t even finish that.

Fortunately, I still was able to complete the nap afterwards.

Man, this getting old is really getting old.

• • •

So far, we had spent the majority of 2018 unconscious, an activity I’m pretty sure wasn’t included on our list of New Year’s resolutions. Nor was what happened next.

We both ended up getting sick, and then resolved to simply try to stay warm amid the week’s polar plunge. But even with the furnace blasting, we spent the next three days huddled in the house freezing.

Not so long ago, I used to love winter: skiing, sledding with the kids, even digging out the driveway, which, though a chore, at least filled me with a sense of accomplishment. Back then, I didn’t really feel the cold. I mean sure it was cold, but as long as you kept moving, it was no big deal.

Lately, though, cold has taken on a whole new dimension. It doesn’t feel cold like it used to … now it’s more like a burn, a sharp biting pain that penetrates to the bone. And no combination of warm socks, knit sweaters or space heaters seems capable of holding it back.

We finally ended up lighting a fire in the fireplace, burning the only wood we had in the house, some decorative white birch logs that have sat next to our fireplace for the last 30 years. Now white birch burns fast, but it also burns hot, hot enough to finally cut through the chill, at least for a few hours. Then it was back to the cold and darkness of the living room.

Man, this being cold is really getting old.

• • •

It’s funny the things you don’t want to do when you’re cold and sick. Like getting out of bed. Or changing your clothes. Or taking a shower. Or leaving the house. 

But come Thursday, I had to both get out of bed and leave the house to drive my twin granddaughters to preschool. I figured I could get away with skipping the other two activities and then return home before anyone noticed.

But as I was getting the girls dressed to go outside, Zoey looked up at me and wrinkled her nose. 

“Grandpa,” she said with great sincerity, “You smell bad!”

“What?” I said, laughing. “I smell bad?”

“Yes, you smell bad. You need to take a bath!”

This wasn’t the first time they’ve taken to correcting me. I’ve been lectured a lot as of late, on everything from nap time etiquette to using bad words when cleaning up after the dogs, to my poor selection of dessert offerings.

Their directness and conviction is always pretty hilarious.

Because unlike growing old or being cold, getting scolded by a 3-year-old never gets old. 

• Bill Wimbiscus, former reporter and editor for The Herald-News, has lived in Joliet for 25 years. He can be reached at news@theherald-news.com.