When I originally pictured my retirement, I envisioned myself getting up bright and early, shaving, showering, and dressing casually for a productive and relaxing day. Maybe starting it all with a cup of coffee and a peek at the newspaper. Once I actually retired, that fantasy image flew away faster than a greased weasel in a waterspout. The real picture of me as a retired guy is much less polished. In fact, it may be too frightening to even consider.
First of all, I stay up late drinking cheap beer and smoking old, rancid cigars. By the time I crawl into bed in the early hours of the morning, I am riddled with foul toxins and sweating like a chunk of dirty ice in a microwave oven. I sleep for twelve or fourteen hours covered in a sheen of toxic waste, underneath a large, green cloud consisting of things which will never be found in the Periodic Table of the Elements, and certainly not in anyone’s cookbook.
Mornings are much worse. Our two cats and our bird all give me a wide berth as I stagger across the living room in my SpongeBob boxer shorts, squinting in the harsh light and scratching myself all the way to the bathroom. Every morning I try to convince myself the mirror is lying, but I eventually have to admit that the hideous beast before me is, indeed, my own sordid reflection. My face is pink and swollen, and usually resembles a large chunk of diseased ham that had been forgotten about for way too long in the back corner of a deli cooler. My greasy, unkempt hair looks like a wilting yucca plant with half its leaves missing. My eyes are two flesh-colored water balloons hiding a couple of eye slits that are dull and dry and encrusted with yellow eye boogers.
And that’s when I decide to say Good Morning to my wife.
Kimberly’s screams usually send all three pets scurrying under the dining room table. This arrangement was worsened over the holidays when a mechanical monkey malfunctioned at the sight of me. Normally, said monkey screams cute little monkey sounds and wags his arms while the voice of some white guy from the thirties sings Jingle Bells. And for that I first have to press a button. However, on that particular morning the monkey started screaming all by himself. Loudly. There was no Jingle Bells, either.
I watched in horror as the yelping toy crawled under the table and cuddled up with the two cats and the bird. ( I didn’t know a mechanical monkey could even do that.)
Anyway, at this point I usually throw on a pair of jeans, a hat, and whatever shoes are closest to the front door. Then I head out to Dunkin’ Donuts to make their day, too. I always bring my AARP card because it gets me a free donut with my coffee.
When I was young and rational I used to make fun of senior citizens who would rush to Denny’s for their “Early Bird” senior discount. Now I am them, and the poor soul on the other side of the Dunkin’ Donuts counter is feeling ashamed for me, the stinky old guy who can’t even afford a chocolate donut.
And this, in a nutshell, is my retirement. My happy ending. My blissful revenge upon the world of work and toil.
Eventually, bit by bit, time and nature will enact upon me in ways that are too brutal to contemplate here. My limbs will become brittle, dry, twigs, and my brain will devolve into a shriveled-up blob of synaptic goop. And the rest of my hair will eventually fall out and land upon my shoulders, where it will grow anew like some uncultivated, yet prosperous, weed farm.
Ah, yes, the forces of time and nature. They can rob me of my health, and they will eventually even take away my life.
But I’ll be damned if I’m giving up any of my free donuts.