Sometime last spring I had an awakening. No, really. It was literally an awakening.
I mean, there I was, laying in bed trying to get my 40 winks, but barely getting 20, when all of a sudden I felt this tap on my shoulder which practically scared the daylights out of me.
“Who’s that?” I shouted as I bolted upright in my semi-unconscious state.
“Wake up, already,” said an impatient, gravelly voice in the darkness. A voice that sounded like it just came over from Brooklyn, I might add.
I turned on the light by my bedside and there he was: an old man standing in my bedroom, wearing nothing but a flimsy white tee and boxers, his bony legs sticking out like wobbly toothpicks. Somehow, he seemed harmless, especially since he was using a walker to hold himself up, which made me realize I could outrun him in a pinch.
“Who the heck are you??” I demanded as I reached for my cell phone to dial 9-1-1. (Thank goodness I hadn’t left my phone at work as I often do.)
“Calm down,” he said with an impish grin spreading across his face. “I’ve come to give you a warning.”
“Wait. Are you the ghost of Christmas Past or, maybe, my guardian angel needing to earn your wings?”
“Are you crazy? That’s meshugenah!” Said the old man with a face of distaste.
I looked at him dubiously. Frankly, he looked a bit like Mel Brooks to me, but I figured there’s no way that Mel Brooks of “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety” fame, was standing in my bedroom in his boxers.
Suddenly, he gave a deep, robust laugh, which then caused him to have a coughing fit, with spittle flying everywhere. I grabbed a book at my bedside, ready to throw it at his head, when he said,
“Oh, put the damn thing down. I’m not gonna bite you. I’m Father Time!”
“You’re what??” I replied incredulously.
“You see me every year when you watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. I’m the one who has to step down and make way for Baby New Year. Sheesh! I wish somebody would potty train that kid already. The diapers he goes through–what a mess!”
“Father Time?” I repeat. “Why are you here?”
He sizes me up and says, “I’m here to tell you that you’ve reached the top of the proverbial hill, what with your birthday coming soon–and a big one at that.”
“You don’t have to remind me,” I mutter under my breath.
He continues. “It’s all downhill from here and the question is, what are you going to do about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m tellin’ it to ya straight. What you do from here on out is up to you, but it’s not too late to change your habits, not if you want to live a good 30 or more years, and from what I can tell, you could be doing better.”
“I walk 10,000 steps a day,” I said in defense of myself, adding, “I go Zumba, maybe once or twice a week.”
“Wait, is this a wake-up call?”
“Finally a light bulb goes off in that Nutella-filled head of yours. You betcha this is a wake-up call. I’m waking you up with a two by four, so get crackin’!”
“What should I do?”
“You know what you need to do. What you said you’d do when you reached age 40 and then 50. Well, now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is and, as Nike says, ‘Just do it!’”
“That’s it? That’s what you came here to tell me?”
“That’s the whole ball and wax. Do yourself a favor and exercise regularly, eat well every day, which means no more sugar and no more Nutella! And for crying out loud, get plenty of z’s every night. Now, good day!”
“Wait, one more thing before you go!”
He’s halfway out the door but stops.
“Can you tell me who’s going to be the next president of the United States?”
“That’s easy. Mel Brooks. You people seem to be looking for a candidate who’s never held a political office. Mel’s as good as it gets.”
“But he’s not even running!”
“So what? Write him in. Did you ever see him as the 2,000 year old man? Great shtick.”
“Funny you should mention Mel. I was just thinking about how much of a resemblance you bear to—“
“–No more time to waste. I have a long list of people to see tonight. You’re not the only one, you know, who needs a little push.”
And just like that he was gone.
The next morning, I made a commitment to increase my Zumba classes to four per week and I signed up with a personal trainer. And then I started eating right, which meant no more Nutella, M&M’s, etc.
Well, at least I’m trying. Lord knows, I’m really trying.
In the meantime, two and a half out of three ain’t so bad, right?