Monday, February 16, 2009


I was very low on gas – the gas gage kept beeping at me – but there did not seem time to get gas until it was absolutely necessary. It was either stop and get gas or hook the car up to the dog and hope he could pull it (which I have little doubt that he could.) So I pull into a gas station nearby here that I had yet to patronize and got out of my car to fill up the tank. Then I hit a block. I had my credit card in hand and I just looked stupidly at the machine not being able to figure out how to insert my card. I looked up and down and around and could not find the slot. “Perhaps,” thought I, “that this is one of those older stations. They have not yet installed the credit card slip. One of those incredibly annoying places where you have to go in to the station and prepay some mysterious amount that is always results in too much or too little gas.”

Then from behind me I heard, “May I help you?” It was exactly then that I saw the sign: “Full Service Station.” And it was! Not just my pump but the whole station! Embarrassed and amazed I got back into my car and said, “Full’er up” while the attendant pumped the gas and washed – yes – washed my windows. I have not come across this in at LEAST fifteen years. I’d almost forgotten how to do it.

I was recounting this story to someone and adding some stories of how it used to be. I still have a set of Apollo glasses and some B.C. bowls from when gas stations used to hand out prizes for filling up at their stations as when banks used to pass out toasters. A not SO young a person was looking at me with a quizzical face and saying, “Really?” It struck me then that they had never experienced this. Ever. That was my first inkling that I was older than I thought.

Even recently when filling out those horrid questionnaires by filling in little circles with a – No, No, No! – on the COMPUTER and you have to click on the age category in which you fall, my first impulse is always to go for the later 20s. Then I laugh (painfully) and try to remember how old I legally am.

Not too long ago a couple came in to get married and I remember thinking how sweet that this older couple is getting married. As part of the prep I had to ask them how old they were. Yes, they were younger than me – just like my doctors, pilots, and the soon to be new professors at the seminary.
Further proof that the world is shifting for me is that I get this video.

Last night there was a “battle of the bands” here at Saint Sebastian. The youth group hosted it in order to raise money for a local hunger center. I will admit the music was a tad beyond me and I wonder if this is the way clergy have always felt as they stood in their gyms listening to high school students singing their rendition of the latest Beatles hit, or some Do-wop tune, or Lindy Hop or Mozart for that matter. One of the bands played 99 red balloons. Cindy Carter and I used to listen to that song all the time when we were in high school. She introduced me to it and we would listen to it when we worked in guidance counselor’s office together. I mentioned that to a student and they said, “Yeah, they do that real old stuff sometimes.”

Ah, well, such is life. And actually I rather like it. I would not want to be a kid again, but I loved the first pass through it. The 20s were fabulous. I really enjoyed my 30’s, and thus far the 40’s are actually shaping up quite marvelously. Every age has a blessing it seems and the trick is to find and enjoy it while appreciate it for what it is as we process to the Kingdom of Heaven. Not such a bad place to end up.


Adoro said...

Fr. V. ~ Well, if it makes you feel any better...I'm younger than you! :-)

And I remember full service stations, too. In fact, just after I got my driver's license, the first time I had to fill up the tank, I went to the full service pump at the station on the corner of 4th St. and 4th Ave near my house and finally had the chance to say, "Filler up!"

I felt so grown-up. :-)

But it did cost more there than self-service stations, so it wasn't long before I decided to be more frugal and just do the work myself. Which ALSO made me feel grown-up.

And I also remember 99 Red balloons, Manic Monday, Walk Like an Egyption, etc.

You're not old. They're all just ignorant. :-P

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, I remember when I noticed that the newly ordained priests were now a year or two younger than I. That was the first time I felt a little "jolt" that I was growing older. Now, I actually have a pastor who is younger than I, whom I must think of and call "Father." Turning the tables, what do young priests think of having to be a "Father" to us older folk?

knuckledragger said...

Did the gas station attendant cycle your credit card through a mechanical slider and give you a carbon copy as a receipt? ;^)

Anonymous said...

Fill'er up, boy, does that bring back memories--hot, stuffy cars (no AC), Dad's cigar smoke (he could and did smoke those things anywhere), and crank down windows (do they even make those any more?). All gone, but not forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I remember thinking of "99 Red Balloons" as a kind of new-agey music. Still do! but I'm older than most everyone reading Fr. V today--heck, I'm even older than was St. Elizabeth when she conceived St. John the Baptist!

Alright, I've ruined MY day, but I hope I made YOURS, lol.

Nah, I don't mind aging, really. In many ways, it's a lot easier than was being in my teens and twenties. And look how old was holy old Anna seeing Jesus at last. It's alright. It's all alright.