“‘dirty old man'” by smcgee

My wife isn’t fond of dirty old men, but I always kind of liked to listen to their stories. I may even get into the dirty old man business myself one day. My PG existence sort of gets in the way of that when it comes to stories, but my guess is ninety percent of what a dirty old man tells you is a lie anyway and I still have a few years to make stuff up.

I want to emphasize I don’t plan to get into the “grabby old man” business. There is a difference. My daughter, Kate, is an Emergency Room nurse and she complains about grabby old men all the time. They don’t know Kate. They usually grab her once then they have a whole new reason for visiting the Emergency Room other than the one they came in with.

I will never be one of them.

I also will never say anything inappropriate to woman unless I have been married to her for several years. So far there is only one qualifier and she largely ignores me anyway.

Back in my early twenties, my roommate, Jay, and I rented an apartment next door to a dirty old man. I’ll call him ‘Mister Norris’ to protect his identity and also because that was his name.

I don’t know how old Mister Norris was, but, if he told me he used to go on hayrides with Betsy Ross, I would have believed him.

Not only was he old, but he was in seriously poor health. He was so shrunken and thin you’d swear he was imploding. He was perpetually stooped over, too, because his back had the general shape and curvature of a potato chip. His knees stuck together when he walked like they were magnetically attracted to each other and he needed a cane to get around.

He hobbled over to us on our first day while we were moving in and said, “Once you boys get settled, I’ll buy some liquor, call some of my lady friends over and we’ll have a party.”

Generous though his offer was, the idea of partying with his lady friends failed to tempt us.

Saturday afternoon rolled around and there was a knock at the door. It was Mister Norris.

“What are you boys doing, tonight?” he asked us.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I bought a few cases of beer,” he said. “Got some food. Plenty of liquor. The party starts tonight at around seven.”

“Great,” I lied.

Around seven we heard some raucous Lawrence Welk tunes sounding through the wall. We never went over. We thought he’d be mad, but the next day he grinned at us and said. “You boys don’t know what you missed.”

I can’t repeat the stories he told us over the years, but we enjoyed them immensely. Real or imagined, he made himself out to be a real Don Juan. He even gave me a few ideas for stories for when I enter the dirty old man field.

He kept on inviting us to his parties and we kept on not going. He never seemed to mind. He just told us what we missed.

Came the day they hauled Mister Norris off to the hospital in a stretcher and we never saw him again. Wherever he wound up, I hope they allowed parties.

A few years later, I had a wife, a baby and two dirty old men living on either side of me. Jim, 77, and Fred, 81.

Jim was wooing a seventy-eight-year-old woman whose first name was Fleetwood (no kidding). Fleetwood was a bastion of propriety which frustrated Jim to no end. She only wore muumuus which frustrated Jim even more and Fred, too, because they couldn’t get an idea what Fleetwood was hiding under all that fabric.

To hear them talk, you would have thought they were all sixteen.

Fred sat on Jim’s porch every evening and they talked about Fleetwood’s clothing choices and the mysteries they concealed. When they tired of that subject, they swapped stories about past conquests of the female variety. Again, I will spare you the details, but suffice to say Mister Norris wasn’t the only Casanova roaming around in the fifties.

Jim finally married Fleetwood. When they got back from their honeymoon, I found Jim sitting alone on his porch the next day. I told him I heard all his stories and I knew how honeymooners behaved. If I caught them chasing each other around naked in the back yard, I’d call the cops.

He promised they wouldn’t, but I wasn’t so sure. He was, after all, a dirty old man.