Wilken's Watch

Barks, bits and benefits of aging

The reasons I firmly believe Americans have lost the ability to engage in reasonable discussion are manifest. People quote sites on the Internet the way they quote "The New York Times."

People wrap their own prejudices in observations and blissfully, angrily ignore boatloads of facts that counter their fallacious observations. Lately, there has been a tempest in a teacup about the way ABC News correspondent Charles Gibson interviewed Sarah Palin, the housewife-governor of Alaska who Republicans want to see one failing old heartbeat away from the presidency. I didn't watch the interview, Palin's blithe ignorance makes my teeth hurt, but I've read all the angry letters to dailies and the national news weeklies bitching out the liberal media. ABC is barely to the left of Fox News and has been owned for sometime by folks favorable to the Evangelical right. There may be some anti-Palin folks working there but it's ridiculous to talk about liberal anything and ABC in the same breath.

Speaking of pitbulls without lipstick, nicey nice, ineffectual Seattle, is in a dither because two pitbulls in the South End, escaped and chawed a 70-year-old lady into intensive care. The pair of offending dogs were shot to death and folks started talking about banning the breed - pitbulls that is.

Immediately, the howls about the "poor" dogs began. The owners are always blamed. "My pitbull is sweet," these wack jobs always claim as defense No. 1. It's the same demented no-facts argument used by gun nuts - guns don't kill people, people with guns do. And just as I've said in this space for years, that I have been a gun owner and am in favor of home protection weapons, I have also owned and loved dogs. A Great Dane-golden lab mix in Hawaii, two golden retrievers and a Siberian husky in Sun Valley, and a golden retriever years ago in Seattle, when I lived in a house with a big backyard for the 80-pound dog.

Studies show pitbulls attack, maim and kill disproportionately. It's not their fault. They've been bred to fight and kill for centuries. But they should not be owned in crowded urban areas by folks who make their puny selves feel bigger by having and parading a potentially vicious dog. Pitbulls and handguns and semi-automatic weapons, should be banned. Statistics alone demand it. But they won't be.

On other fronts, growing older - I won't see my 50s ever again unless the Buddhists are right and reincarnation, not singing heaven, is the deal - has changed me in ways I never thought possible. For example, despite working friendships with seven or eight intelligent interesting folk, occasional dates with younger women, and weekly get-togethers with my two youngish daughters, and an active writing career, including these columns, I no longer feel totally in this world.

I often find myself reading obituaries in the papers, right after I scan the sports page, and I almost always see notices of deceased folks younger than I am. As a teenager, I was amazed by the sight of my graying father reading obits and sometimes cackling when an enemy had passed on. How morbid, I thought, not taking into consideration that Dad was dying, younger than I am now, from a wasting disease, and obviously trying to deal with his terror in many ways, including daily obit perusals.

And now, more and more aware of my own mortality, I read the sad damn things myself. I just don't cackle.

When you're young, the mind keeps the world at bay, while you raise babies, build a career, buy houses and consider yourself and active, functioning member of the adult world. If you're lucky that phase might last 30 years, obscuring the fact that life is change and that change, eventually, is a radical thing.

Even your pleasures will alter. At 30, golf seemed a tawdry way to waste a sunny day if you couldn't find a game of soccer. Now golf is what soccer used to be to me. A passionate obsession. I'm consumed by it, so whacked out I even watch it on television. From Pele to Tiger in a mere three decades.

I never would have guessed. And neither would my friends, many of whom seem appalled at my desire to stop at Puetz whenever we turn onto Aurora and head in the direction of Green Lake.

All I can say is: Fore![[In-content Ad]]