After a full three-quarters of a century of trying, I still have

trouble being adult. It seems I’ve just got no feel for it. Four

decades of high school teaching got me no farther than big boyhood. In

other words, as a teacher I was usually the biggest kid in the room,

albeit always the oldest. Sometimes I had to bully the other kids into

compliance, and I always did it as a bully, an overbearing peer with a

sarcastic mouth (“irony” I preferred to call it), never as a calmly

dignified, detached, distant, aloof, superior adult.

At Thanksgiving each year, my role as big kid in-chief gets additional

reinforcement at the family dinner. Along with local foods, we always

have a kosher turkey, courtesy of my brother-in-law, who knows it’s my

inalienable right to take sole gustatory possession of the pope’s

nose and his obligation to deliver same browned to a perfectly crisp,

juicy succulence.

Always big kid like in my food preferences, I find the pope’s nose

particularly splendid, like the backstrap of young venison or the

cheeks of freshly caught halibut. When I finish my treat, always

before dinner, apart from prying eyes, I ask where I should deposit

the pope’s boogers, the small bones the turkey uses to display his

feathered appendage in a proud fan.

Later, the true adults, most of them younger than me, compete politely

for thin cardboard slices of white breastmeat, while I sneak the neck

or the back. The competition for those flavorful prime cuts is

surprisingly minimal.

My modest adulthood aspirations go unnoticed by those around me and

completely unanswered by me. Perfect. The one thing worse than a

septuagenarian who doesn’t act his age is a quadragenarian who

insists on acting mine.

Talk story

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