Kelly had a habit of working names of his friends and family into his stories and unpublished novels. So don't be surprised to see a nod to me from my Little Rock days in his concluding sentences of this story written just after his 65th birthday in 1998.
A Central American Change of Lifestyle
by Kelly Presley
In panic I tottered to my Webster’s and turned to the entry, “middle age.” bummer! This Webster guy had ended my joyful days of mid-life at sixty-five. And worse bummer, he defined middle age as “the period of time between youth and old age.” I was now Webster’s officially “Old.” Depressing.
Having been a psychobabblist for a number of my middle-aged salad years I knew that being “old” is a major source of depression. But I don’t pee in my pants like June Allyson and my teeth are my own, even if Jane Powell demands I soak my dentures. Still I needed to know what new passage I had embarked on. I tried on “senior citizen” and “third age” but they didn’t provide emotional comfort or wear well. And “elderly” is for the truly old, not a pup like me. So, Webster’s in hand, I began the search that would lift me from the depression suffered by “old people,” and bring me my golden years.
I had nearly given up, settled for decrepit old man, when I found my Prozac, right there on page 560! The words lifted me: geezer an eccentric man or, rarely, a woman.
That was me! Certainly having weathered the slings & arrows of four careers & as many wives would make anyone a tad eccentric and I was rarely, if ever, a woman.
Under the joyful cloak of geezerhood... I bounded from my hermitage in search of the companionship of other geezers. And I found them basking in the sun in Antigua’s Central Park. A motley crew at best, we all had three things in common; we had cast off the burdens of middle age, we were free of unholy matrimony and we were living on fixed incomes. The latter was a major source for conversation and the bonding that is unusual to a group that resembles a gathering of rogue elephants.
“The best meal for your money is at Los Tacos,” advised Rich Watson on my first day with my geezer buddies. He had been a New York investment banker and could cost-benefit analyze everything from a plane ticket to a plate of rice & beans.
“Don’t rent at those Zersch River apartments, they’re overpriced and they don’t have cable,” added Don Mut, a former Germantown real estate broker.
“And if you need a doctor, I’d advise Dr. Swazy,” added Jack Morris, a Newark house painter who was recovering from his monthly disease.
My geezer buddies...were giving me the absolute skinny and I also learned there were geezers just like me throughout Central America. Jim Hearne, a retired helicopter pilot, said you could find them from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Guatemala’s beautiful Lake Atitlan, in every city or small town with a central park and a nearby cafe for morning coffee and an afternoon beer.
As I was leaving and shaking hands with my new buddies, Terry Elders, a retired pharmacist from Little Rock, slipped a pill into my hand. I looked at it and then at Terry. He smiled and said it was “uplifting.”
And it was... And so is geezing in Central America. Come on down! It’s uplifting.