Carly Simon is in my head a lot these days singing, “You’re So Vain”. After decades of seeming perpetual youth in my career as a reporter, the portrait in my attic has become an illusion. It’s something with which most people who work in the public eye must come to grips as time goes by.
Juan Ponce De Leon was a Spanish explorer who came to the Americas in search of the fountain of eternal youth which he was sure was located on Bimini. Needless to say, he did not find it.
First, it was my hair turning salt and pepper, then predominantly gray. And, then, oh horror! A bald patch atop my head which has crept ever forward. Mother of mercy!!
As a TV news guy, I was on the air several times a day, five or six days a week. For 31 years. I remember walking into an electronics store and seeing myself on dozens of TV sets, surrounded by a throng of appreciative people. From an ego point of view, it just doesn’t get much better.
The hair crisis was paralleled by my body telling me I could no longer work such long hours, nor party with little sleep and questionable dietary habits.
Understand that I’ve been retired for 20 this October, but I’ve been very slow to accept the guy I see in the pictures on our wall no longer exists. Last week, I visited my two younger brothers at our family home. Our mission? Prepare the 60-year-old house for sale. Huge cleanup. My body cried for relief the first day. My brothers were sympathetic. I was grateful but my ego took a hit.
The drive home from West Hempstead to Uxbridge was out of “The Twilight Zone”. Bumper to bumper from start to finish. More than five hours! I used to relish such trips, regardless of traffic. It was fun in those convertible days, top down, letting memories blur the idiotic, incompetent motorists around me.
My convertible days are history along, with my tolerance for long hours on the road.
Credence Clearwater Revival rode shotgun the final hour of the drive, keeping me alert as I finger tapped the steering wheel. “Midnight Special” played a half-dozen times, right into our driveway as I arrived home and allowed myself a long sigh. I slowly — very slowly — extracted myself from the car. I tried to stretch.
Oh, the dismay. The fear and trembling. Where the hell was Ponce De Leon when I needed him? Probably still in his eternal search for that elusive fountain of youth …