Those of you who are long time readers of my blog, and you know who you are, even though I don’t, know that I often muse about my funeral. I won’t link to any earlier posts about funerals but I implore you to go read about it. Tonight, I sat in on a retirement dinner for 3 colleagues so I got to thinking about that. I realized that a retirement dinner is much like a funeral except I get to have some of the food, and it is less of a surprise when I get up to speak. I became worried that I wouldn’t have the wherewithal to write a good speech so I have decided to craft it now. I believe I have posted something like this for my funeral, but this is going to be completely different. Or if it ends up being the same, that’s because I don’t remember what I wrote and true brilliance is always fresh.
I’d like to start by thanking you all for coming tonight, but only because then I can get that part out of the way, so there you go. If you showed up to be acknowledged you can feel free to leave. Put your gift on the table and get out; if you didn’t bring a gift then please help wash some dishes or pay my kids’ bills for a month and we’ll call it even.
Truth is, I don’t know most of you. I’d like to say that that’s because I’m suffering from debilitating disease, but that simply isn’t true. My diseases are all bilitating. And as a completely bilitated person, I’d like to say that I don’t know you because you really aren’t all that memorable. Also not true. You are all completely memorable, just to someone else. The fact is that I’m just not so good at names and faces, especially not in any combination. There are, I have noticed, really only ten or so templates for Jews so you DO look familiar, but only because I’ve seen a whole slew of people who look just like you over my years and I can’t remember which one you are. So when I call you by the wrong name, it isn’t that I don’t remember you, it’s just that, well, OK, I don’t remember who you are, but I have some vague recollection that I’m supposed to. So don’t make me feel bad. Answer to whatever name I choose, with grace and the knowledge that I have already forgotten how I started this sentence, so the odds that I will remember my social faux pas are nil, and even if I did, I wouldn’t care because I’m retiring. Those of you who are sure that I must remember you because you were my favorite student, best friend, or parent, have no fear – I totally do. I’m justifying myself to all the other schmucks sitting all around you. Please don’t make eye contact with me so no one else has to feel uncomfortable but just know in your heart of hearts that I remember every inane story you have told me and every bit of trivia you shared with me 15 years ago. To my colleagues, I probably do remember you because I think you owe me money; to the people from college, yes I used to have hair. You used to be endearing. People change. To my community friends, you all know me well enough not to be here tonight and for that, I salute you, but you’ll never know that because you aren’t here. And to my wife and kids, I’m so controlling the radio on the way home.
I have been thinking about how I am going to use my time now that I am retiring. I think I want to spend some time watching airplanes. Have you ever just stared at a plane flying majestically across the sky? I have always wanted to be the guy who had to go someplace and do something. The guy drivers met at the airport; the guy who was important and had to go to meetings by plane and talk about stuff in “rooms.” Not that I actually want to go anywhere, but it must be nice to be that guy who flies in airplanes. Flying tin cans. Why anyone would get in one of those death traps is beyond me. And I want to do something with horses. Maybe I’ll go watch a horse at a zoo. I think they have horses there. Smelly beasts. Now I know why the cops punch them. Anyway, the common thread seems to be transportation. But not submarines. That’s stupid. You can’t even open the door. If you open an airplane door, you have a couple of seconds to enjoy the fresh air before you get sucked out. But a submarine? Open the door just a crack and they never let you hear the end of it. Or anything else, ever.
I should also clip my toe nails. Ah, retirement. The possibilities are endless. I may go to the park and tell the babies to shut up and stop looking at my ice cream. The other option is to become an unsuccessful stock trader so I can buy the newspaper, and sit and read the stock listings and shake my head sadly, then slap the paper down and scream “NO! I knew it! Why didn’t I…” and then trail off while I sob uncontrollably. I mean I do that now, but it would be nice to know why for real even. And another thing, why am I not an astronaut? They should totally make a sequel for Field of Dreams. Maybe, in my retirement, I’ll write a letter to the studios every week, telling them that. I may also threaten someone in the same letter, just to save postage.
I might take up painting so that I can quit it because I can’t do it. It would be nice to fail at a few things and criticize them and everyone else who is involved with them. Cross dressing is an option, but it might not be appropriate because I’m not Christian. I’ll wait while you catch on to that one. One other dream I have about retirement is that I’m climbing a hill and then suddenly my legs turn into stilts and a monkey comes in to talk to me about an idea for a reality show. Now I know that that doesn’t seem to be about retirement but since I’ll never see you people again, I don’t feel the need to explain myself. I may try to get into the book of world records, but I know that there is nothing in that book that I can do in any way more excessively than the sorry saps who are in there already, so I need to find something that no one has any interest in doing and then do that, just a lot. Competitive snapping, or nine volt battery licking, maybe. And if anyone is doing that already I might go with ‘largest ball made out of pen caps connected by those little rubber bands you wear with braces.’ Or saying the word “fortnight” more times in a minute than anyone ever has.
I am considering obesity as a hobby, and am already beginning my post midlife crisis. So thanks for the watches and wallets, and if you see me on the street, tell me to wait while you run into a store and buy me a nice pair of shoes. Loafers, please – I’m not wasting a second of my remaining free time making bunny ears. Thanks for the party, and next year when I retire, I want better cake. Drive safe and stay off my lawn.