Don’t you just love old people and hope to be one someday?
They deserve respect for their wisdom, because as the 20th century philosopher Mudbone said, you don’t get to be old by being a fool.
This, however, is one time when senior citizens – yeah, I hate that term, too – need to turn down their hearing aids or turn up “The Golden Girls” or their Beyonce-laden iPads and chill.
A recent N&O story talked about the street festivals held downtown and how the revelers and their BOOM BOOM BOOM disturb the slumber of some residents of the Sir Walter Apartments.
Sorry folks, but that’s the price of progress, and the Sir Walter is not the Shady Rest.
Nothing provides more tangible evidence of downtown Raleigh’s rebirth than the gaiety – which, if you’re doing it right, is noisy – that occurs there almost every weekend.
It started about a decade ago when my running buddy and I would take our afternoon constitutional around town on Fridays and see the food trucks and vendors setting up on Fayetteville Street outside the Sir Walter.
“Looks like P. Diddy” – our nickname for merrymaking then-mayor Charles Meeker – “is fixing to host another hoe-down downtown,” we’d say.
Prior to Meeker’s mayoralty, downtown was not a destination, but more like a deserted nation, someplace to flee when the 5 o’clock whistle blew. Few things were sadder than that pedestrian mall known as Fayetteville Street at 5:30 p.m., when the gloaming arrived and the gloom descended.
What’s happening now has to be preferable to an empty street.
That’s how Toots Rogers feels. Rogers, a 72-year-old great-grandfather, is a Sir Walter resident. He flitted around the latest festival, chatting with people as though he were a conscientious host trying to make guests feel welcome.
Does he like the music that some residents complain disturbs their peace? I asked.
“I love all kinds of music when they know how to play and don’t mess up the groove,” he said while standing on the sidewalk in front of the Sir Walter. “The music’s out here. What are you doing in there?”
Moments later, he bounced jauntily down the sidewalk.
A truism holds that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend. Another is “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” That’s what Rogers and a couple of other Sir Walter residents who looked upon the proceedings with bemusement have done.
Don’t go gentle
If anyone needs to heed the words of Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret” – “What good is sitting alone in your room? Come, hear the music play.” – it’s those in places like the Sir Walter.
After all, it was not I, but poet Dylan Thomas, who wrote:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
“Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
That would be me. I’d be out there, possibly in some orthopedic bedroom slippers because of my aching corns and – if I can still fit into it – my lime-green, crushed velvet jumpsuit from my Disco Godfather days. Whatever I’m wearing, I’ll be raging against the dying of the light.
“Get down old man,” they’ll say.
“Work it, pops,” they’ll shout.
“Say, who’s the old dude over there drinking all the Courvoisier?” someone else will ask before they kick me out.
So old people. Get out there and pitch a wang dang doodle with those young ’uns and show ’em how it’s done. Put down the knitting, the book and the broom and pull out that polyester leisure suit, dust off those feathered boas, polish the stacked heels you haven’t worn since KC & the Sunshine Band was exhorting you to “Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your booty,” and add to the merriment that has brought downtown back to life.
It may do the same for you.