Commentary: Some used-to things were good, some were not so good


Old age gets one to thinking about things that used to be. Here are some of mine:

■ I used to be able to endure really loud music. But now that I am many years beyond the minimum age for AARP membership, I avoid extremely loud music at all costs—and it must show.

Several weeks ago, my wife and I were invited to use someone else’s tickets to a benefit concert at an events center in my hometown. Dress was supposed to have been cowboy and cowgirl. Trouble was, I lost my cap pistols decades ago, and my horse, which looked more like a broom with reins, had died. All I had was a red bandana, which I displayed judiciously.

Sensing my aversion to loud music, perhaps due to my thinning, gray hair and slightly slumped shoulders, the greeter at the door issued me a pair of one-size-fits-all earplugs. My wife, who looks much younger—and is by four years—also got a pair. The music indeed was loud, about 90 decibels, I would say, so I tried the earplugs. Yes, they worked to some degree. Plugged up, however, I couldn’t carry on a conversation at our table. So I put the earplugs in my non-cowboy shirt pocket, which already contained my hearing aids, and endured, again.

■ I used to write funny things—and, in one Valentine’s Day talk, even speak of funny things—about my wife. But no more. She put her foot down. “I am not Fang, and you are not Phyllis Diller,” she said. “You will not use me to get laughs.” So if you hear of something funny that she did, it did not come from me.

■ I used to watch “Dancing with the Stars” on television. That’s because my wife was a fan, which meant she got tired of my sarcasm, prompting my vow to watch quietly. She had sat through a Willie Nelson concert in a completely enclosed theater seemingly enveloped in a fog of toke smoke, so I owed her one. Now, however, she seldom watches DWTS, and I listen to Willie mostly on the radio.

■ I used to hide my razor from our two beautiful daughters. For years, they never asked for their own cute little pink razors to shave their long legs and delicate underarms. They used mine, which wasn’t pink, I should add. Now that they’re grown, married and living elsewhere, I kind of miss trying to shave with a dull razor.

■ I used to jog. But my back started hurting, and the doctor told me to stop. I did. Nowadays, thanks to my energetic wife, I get up before breakfast three mornings a week and submit my aging body to a young woman who majored in kinesiology, which is the art of discovering human muscles never used before. The exercise is worth it, though, to feel young and vibrant again. Or so I’m told.

I could go on, but it’s my bedtime. I used to stay up late.


Phil Hudgins is a retired newspaper editor and author from Gainesville, Ga.. Reach him at