The Old Men in the Home

by Adam Acidophilus

Four old men — who lived in a home — were gathered around the card table one long and very boring afternoon. In the way of these things, they couldn’t quite remember their previous conversations.

“What did you say your job was?” one of them asked another. “What did you say your job used to be?”

“I was a cop,” said the first of them. “Thirty years on patrol, another fifteen back at the precinct house.”

“Hell of a job,” said another of the men. “You must be proud. What a life. 45 years of service.”

The cop paused. “Nope,” he said. “Can’t say I cared much for any of it. A complete waste of time. Should have done something different. What did you do?”

“I — ” began his questioner — “I was a dentist.”

“Hey!”

“Very nice.”

“Good money!” said the others.

“Not if you get divorced,” said the dentist. “Just my pension and nothing left over, for fifty years of staring into other people’s mouths. That’s what complete waste of time really looks like!”

The others shared his disappointment. Without the money, they reasoned, it didn’t seem like such a great career.

“I was a farmer,” the third of them announced. “Yep, farmed a thousand acres. Grain, beef, dairy — you name it. Rose before dawn, bed at ten. Never took a single day sick.”

A gentle applause pattered through the lounge.

“A life well lived,” said one.

“We salute you,” muttered the cop.

“An utter waste of time,” sighed the farmer. “Never took a break — never took a holiday neither. Never left the farm, ’cept for church. Had my accident, then the bank took it all. Definitely should have done something else.”

A sourness descended. Nobody spoke for a bit. The three of them turned their eyes on the fourth.

“What about you?” one of them asked. “What did you do with your life?”

“Well,” he coughed. “I was a singer-songwriter.”

The sourness stayed put.

“Yeah?”

“Well, I wrote a song about my girlfriend when I was seventeen. Reflections — perhaps you’ve heard it? It was a hit in over 130 countries. Apart from my own royalties, a lot of other people wanted to record it. Paid for homes all over the world and a lifestyle to match . . .

“People said that song was an iconic anthem of the age, and the signature tune to over a billion real life love stories.”

“One song paid for your whole life?” asked the cop.

“No, only for about ten years,” said the singer-songwriter. “Then I broke up with my girlfriend and wrote a moody and introspective album, Reflecting, in which I turned the mirror of song upon myself. That covered the divorce and the dispute with my original record company — and the rehabilitation, I had substance issues. Then I rationalised my expenditure and built a home to my own design on a lakeside near the mountains, and retired there when I was thirty.”

“You retired at thirty?” gasped the dentist.

“Pretty much, yeah. I got into my art though, and sold the odd painting — landscapes, nudes, self-portraits, nothing fancy. I invested in a couple of hi-tech startup companies, which paid off. Then of course I did my autobiography Reflections: Reflecting on a Difficult Life, and that sold a few — though the big money came with the film rights.”

“That’s enough! That’s enough!” coughed the farmer. “Whatever else, you’re in here now!”

The old men cackled unpleasantly.

“Only for this week,” said the singer-songwriter. “I’m recovering from minor surgery. Getting checked over first thing tomorrow, then it’s back to the mountains.”

An appropriately stony silence did nothing for quite a while.

“Sounds like you got it all sewn up then,” one of the old men conceded. “Looks like we should have all been singer-songwriters.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” said the singer-songwriter.

“Why the hell not?” asked the others.

“Well . . . ” he replied. “It’s shit, isn’t it? Everybody thinks I’m a wanker.”

Moral: What did you say your job was again?

 

© Adam Acidophilus 2018