When I retired last year after 35 years as a schoolteacher, my friends and family encouraged me to make changes in my life.
“Stay up late!” urged my cousin.
“Get a cellphone!” cried a friend.
“Buy a new car!” crowed my mother.
Alas, I had always been a creature of habit. I would go to sleep at 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 (even in the summer). I didn’t have a cellphone. And, my Honda Civic — well, I bought it new in 1998.
So, I set out to change things, but it’s hard.
It would be so nice not to wake up before sunrise! However, in order to sleep late, you have to go to bed late, and I just can’t. In fact, things are getting worse. I watch “Jeopardy!” every night at 7 (yes, another habit), do some reading at 7:32, and by 7:34 I’m dozing off. It’s a struggle to stay awake. If I make it to 9:30, it’s an incredible accomplishment. I stagger off to bed, fall asleep before my head hits the pillow and sleep soundly until 6.
When I wake up, I’m WIDE awake. Off I go to the YMCA in Glen Cove, where I swim, lift weights, cycle. After a shower, it’s home for a hearty breakfast at 8:15. By 8:45, I’m ready for my nap. Not good.
Perhaps I’d have more luck with a cellphone. Since I spent much of last winter in California, I bought one to use just for sending and receiving phone messages. I made a few calls, but by the end of the first week, I hadn’t received any (which was, admittedly, a little sad).
Then, one day, I was walking down the street and I heard a female voice purring from my hip pocket. A call! I whipped out the phone, but there was no one there. And, then it dawned on me — the sexy voice had come from a passing bus. Sigh. (I had never gotten a call before and only later did I realize that my phone should ring, not speak to me.)
As the months rolled along, I did receive some calls, and I was glad I made the purchase, if only to have a phone in case of emergency. Then one day, while removing socks, shirts, and underwear from the washing machine, I spotted a shiny object: my phone. My beautiful cellphone. My soaking wet, totally useless cellphone.
Moving on, maybe it was time to buy a new car. My Civic was 17 years old. The paint was peeling, but it only had 50,000 miles (I ride my bike a lot). We’ve had a happy marriage.
And, then one day, the car wouldn’t start until the third attempt. Oh, no. The problem persisted. Took three tries to get it going. On Day 4, I realized what was wrong: I was out of gas. Or nearly out. The needle had veered all the way to the bottom.
I filled the tank and haven’t had a problem since. But, perhaps this was a sign that it IS time to get a new car.
Maybe I’ll go to the dealership tonight. After “Jeopardy!” If I can stay awake.
Reader Saul Schachter lives in Sea Cliff.