They Tell Me Getting Old Is A Kick!
-Fred Stock

            A few years ago I was active as a naturalist guide for a jeep tour company in the southern California desert. There were numerous vehicles and guides, and being located in a huge resort area, usually you would pass other jeeps full of visitors along the off-road trails in out 1000+ acre territory near the San Andreas Fault . Of course, all the people doing that type of work were a card or two short of a deck, and all of us had type A personalities and no fear of ego problems. It was a great group and a lot of fun.


          One of my friends there was a fellow we shall call Jim V. (We actually shall call him that because that is his name!) (I mean, why the heck not?) Jim and I were very close in age, and it was always a contest between the two of us as our jeeps crossed paths on those narrow roads, to be the first one to speak, because that was the one that got the first laugh! You spoke to the folks riding in the back of the other jeep, and nearly always, the first joke would focus on “old”. The dialogue went something like this…


            “You people are especially fortunate to be riding with Jim today, because he can teach you the geology first hand. He was actually here for most of it.”  Then Jim would say, “Yah, I remember when all of this was flat!” If the clients appeared to be laughing, it continued. “You laugh, but Jim was actually in the photograph of the ground breaking for the San Andreas Fault !” And Jim would say, “He knows because he was the old guy with his head under the cloth on the back of the camera.”  “At the end of the tour, you’ll be offered souvenirs including a Jim V. in-action figures and non-bobble-heads for your dash board.”

We had a collection of routines we went through that usually got a laugh. In the mid-1990’s there was a series of television commercials for mustard for the “upper class”. Two operators in limousines would stop mid way across the street and the electric windows would roll down. The drivers would exchange comment in British accents. We picked that up too, and began

carrying a small bottle of mustard under the front seat so we’d have it when one of the other guides pulled along side and said, “Pah-don me, but might you have a bit of Grey Poupon?”

            But the ”old jokes” were always a project, Jim and I especially would work out new lines to pull on the other without warning. “Jim is actually listed among the national historic sites. In his home, all the mirrors have to say “Caution, objects in this mirror are even older than they appear!”” “Fred is often considered an expert on the minerals, especially since he’s so old parts of him are already petrified.” “That’s true, but you know, I’m rockin!” “Jim is considered THE authority in our group on plants of the desert. If you have any questions about local flora, you can ask him, because as a child, he actually WAS a plant.” “He was well rooted!” “Now he’s an evolved soul…” Will you stop? “If you mention pollen, he gets all giggly.” Stop it! “His hair turns all orange and brown in the Fall.” End! “And green in the spring wildflower season.” Stoppppp! -fhs