Paul Lerner was tired. He and his wife Sally had recently come back from a one-week cruise and as soon as he felt up to it he’d gone to their local supermarket to re-stock their staples. He’d also gone to the bank in the same shopping center to deposit the check he received for the two monthly columns, “Observations” and “Favorite Restaurants” he wrote for the paper that went to his Northern California retirement community. The walk to the bank and then the traipsing up and down the supermarket aisles had worn him out, not surprising at his advanced age, especially so after all the walking he’d done the week before on the cruise. After bringing in the four bags of the items he’d bought he’d gone straight to his bedroom lazy-boy chair while Sally put them into their proper places. Paul had written a number of “Observations” columns about the cruises and other trips he and Sally had taken and he always concluded them with a quote from the Chinese poet Lin Yutang that the best part of travel was coming home and having your own pillow to rest your head on and he thought he might add to have your own lazy-boy chair to sit in.
Looking back on the cruise Paul concluded that it wasn’t such a good idea. They should have known something was amiss when the bus taking them from their retirement community to the pier in San Francisco was caught in a monumental traffic jam and when they finally got there the wheelchairs they’d requested months before weren’t there and when they finally got to their cabin the double beds they’d also requested months before weren’t ready. Then the seas were rough, enough so that some passengers got seasick and the weather was cold and rainy. On their second night out they’d waited in a lounge for the piano player to come while the ship rocked back and forth. Finally, someone had come out to tell them the piano player was seasick.
Their cabin, too, seemed to have shrunk since their last cruise and they had to be careful going up and down a pretty high step to go into and out of the bathroom. The ship’s elevators were as usual always going in the wrong direction, down when they wanted to go up to the buffet and up when they wanted to go down to the dining room. When they wanted to get information about the ports the ship stopped at to see if they could get off and find some interesting places without walking too far no one at the ship’s so-called information desk could tell them anything. On disembarkation day they reported as directed to the place for wheelchair users only to be ignored while other passengers were wheeled off. Finally, Sally cornered someone and demanded to be taken off as they had to be on a bus. Sure enough, they’d missed their assigned bus but luckily a place was held for them on another bus. Paul had a standing column on what he called LLAs and TGHs, Life’s Little Annoyances and Things Guaranteed to Happen, usually bad. He’d already made a list for a column on cruise LLAs and TGHs.
Paul was still tired. Besides all the walking they’d done on the cruise since getting back home it seemed they’d been busy every day. First, there was the leaking faucet to be replaced. They’d found the leak just before leaving on the cruise and a new faucet had arrived while they were away. Paul had gone to the Lodge, the center of their retirement community’s activities, where there were reference books for people who fixed things and found a plumber who’d come the next day. So that took care of that problem. Then there was the ice-maker in their fridge which had stopped making ice, also discovered just before they left. This time Paul had found that there was an ice jam and had managed to break it up so that fixed that problem. Then there was a letter from their local newspaper in the mail telling them that the already high rate had gone up again. Paul had to call, fight his way through the usual automated phone system to get to a live person and had gotten the increase cut down so they were paying only a few dollars more.
On top of all this, there’d been the onslaught of robo calls since they’d been back, especially repeated ones supposedly from the Apple Store saying that there was something wrong about their Cloud. The calls were plausible, giving several options and also a phone number to call. Paul had looked up the phone number of the Apple Store, called and had been told that the calls were a scam, a fishing expedition to get their personal information. At any rate, thought Paul, he’d have plenty of material for another column on LLAs and TGHs.
Eventually Paul got up, went into the kitchen and prepared a sandwich for his lunch. While eating, he watched one of the cable TV news channels, if it could still be called a news channel and not a propaganda outlet. Whatever you called it the news was even worse than it had been before the cruise with the circus in Washington becoming more bizarre by the day. Finally, he had enough and turned it off. He then went to his computer and started his “Observations” on cruise LLAs and TGHs. He found a couple of e-mails about rating places for his “Favorite Restaurants” column and sent back thank-you e-mails. There was an e-mail from an online magazine editor asking for a story for an upcoming issue. He’d see what he could find for that. After this, it was back to his lazy-boy chair.
Sally had gone to a practice of the retirement community’s chorus, of which she’d been a member since they’d moved there. She said she was getting back into the swing of things. Paul thought that he should call or e-mail a couple of his friends, but that could wait until next. The he’d try to get back into the swing of things. He picked up his iPad and Googled an actor from a TV show they’d watched last night. The actor played a doctor who looked to them like a teenager and he was curious as to how old he actually was. The actor, it turned out, was 27, young enough. He Googled the day’s stock market activity. Then he remembered a song that someone on the cruise had asked the pianist (who’d recovered from being seasick) to play, “Memory” from “Cats,” one of Paul’s favorites. The piano player had said, rather rudely, Paul thought, that he’d select the pieces to play that night.
Paul went to You Tube, typed in “Memory” and came up with a number of possibilities. He selected the song as sung by Barbara Streisand. You Tube showed half a dozen or so other songs on the side and he selected next “The Way We Were.” Then he went on selecting other songs he liked---“The Last Farewell, “Lara’s Theme,” “Time to Say Good-bye.” and others. Every time one song ended there was another that he wanted to hear.
He was startled when Sally suddenly appeared in the doorway, back from her chorus practice. It must be around five o’clock. He paused the latest song she was listening to and asked her if they’d welcomed her back. They talked a few minutes more, then Sally said she was going to rest up before seeing about supper. Paul leaned back in his chair. He’d spent almost the whole afternoon doing nothing much, just fiddling around with his Pad. Maybe he’d dozed off once or twice. Well, why not? He’d taken care of all the small chores he had to do. He was an old geezer, he was tired and didn’t have to do anything else. Maybe fiddling away an afternoon as he’d just done was one of the small pleasures of being old.