I am an old fogey and I ramble a lot. And forget a lot.  3

But I also remember a lot. Sort of. Bits and pieces. Contexts afading.  4

Come to think of it, "old fogey" is a pleonasm—redundancy of expression that is. I looked it up in my "The Concise Oxford Dictionary." Not that I didn't know the word, but dictionaries varnish things with authority.  5

Where was I? O, yes. "Old fogey" is a pleonasm because fogey means old-fashioned fellow, old man behind the times. So says my dictionary. That makes "old fogey" an "old, old man." But you need not be old to get behind the times. I have been behind the times too often for my own good and that of my family.  6

My wife is an elderly lady, not an old fogey. I don't know of any word for an elderly lady behind the times. Is there? At any rate, she has an iPad, for emails and news mainy. She finds it hard to keep up with all the upgrades and new features. Modern technology doesn't care about elderly ladies. Or about old fogeys.  7

That dictionary tells me that fogey may be spelled fogy as well. I may have known that once; don't remember. It puts fogy ahead of fogey. Not so my American College Dictionary. It puts fogey (pl. -geys) ahead of foggy and fogy (pl. -gies) after foggy. It defines fogy as "1. an old-fashioned or excessively conservative person: the old fogy 2. a slow or dull person." Ouch! Better an old fogey than a fogey be.  8

I've often been behind the times. Maybe I already said that. Let's count. First, my teenage years under German occupation of The Netherlands. We usually say "Holland, but that tends to rattle Frisians, in the northern province of Friesland. I don't want to offend. Besides, my wife prides herself on a Frisian grandmother, tough, practical, resolute, and steeped in duty. Frisian language is distinct from Dutch.  9

Five years of occupation brought an end to ordinary social life. And then, secondly, I was conscripted soon after which removed me another three years from civilian life and the starting out on a career.  10

Thirdly, there was the immigration to Canada, to a somewhat different society. Different language.  11

Fourthly, I went back to school in my 40s to become a qualified chemistry teacher. Ten years for a B.Sc. and an M.Ed. while holding down a job. That hiatus was worse than the first, but that is another story altogether. Now I have to pee.  12

Something I need to be clear about, very clear. I put my old-fogey stories under "Me and my world." MY world, not OUR world. People in OUR world can easily overlook that. Getting older, becoming more and more isolated. With prospects fading, mulling over a life that was. Getting behind the times, and so on. Old fogeys are often told that they have said this or that before, time and again. By people in OUR world.  13

That hurts bit. Just a little bit, quietly forgiven, soon forgotten. Besides, there is a good feel in being listened to. Or read, as in my case. It feels good to be still of some value to others. To be useful in some way. I hope to be useful to my children, grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. But then, my writing may not be well understood or not understood altogether.  14

When somebody criticizes something in a story of mine, I sense he or she has read it, not merely glanced it over. Quite aside of whether I agree or not with the comment. But either way, it's likely to take me some time to think about it because this old fogey's brain grinds slowly. Blame the myelin sheaths or whatever.  15

Myelin is not in my Concise Oxford Dictionary. It is in my American College Dctionary though: "a soft, white, fatty substance encasing the axis cylinder of certain nerve fibers." The thing is, the myelin in our brain shrinks a bit on ageing which slows down the signal traffic that makes mind. That's what I suspect.  16

I have been told that I use the word "pee" too often. On editorial authority no less. Bodily functions have no place in stories or so I'm told. In a world punctuated by four-letter f-words. Even in newspapers. Go figure. But then, I am behind the times. I don't use Facebook; I don't tweet. I am nonplussed by updates of my laptop's and iPad's operating systems. I don't care about what most adverts peddle. Like Socrates in a market: "How many things I don't need!"  17

I have been vehemently criticized for a line in my story "To pee or not to pee," line 9 that spelled out the n-word. I was told that that word has become so offensive that even in the U.S.A.'s southern states it's heard no longer.  18

The sentence meant to contrast a highly offensive behavior even by people who, like we pretty well all do, use euphemisms like "bathroom" for a place made for urinating and deficating. I changed the sentence—reluctantly, but then again, "when in doubt, cut it out." On top of which, old fogey or not, we all do well by not unnecessarily hurting or harming others. Which raises the point that an old-fogey's memories may offend younger generations without any intend whatsoever.  19

While pondering the plight of African Americans, an image came to mind. It came from a movie I saw when ten or eleven years old, shortly before WW-II. It was a scene of muscular black men glistening in their sweat. That image has stayed with me ever since, as did the haunting sound of a voice, singing. I don't remember the lyrics. Wouldn't have understood them anyway.  20

While writing this, I searched for and found the movie on YouTube. Here is screenshot:

TV overload

It does not quite capture what I recall seeing on a large theater screen. Too bad.  21

Some three decades or more later, I came across a recording of Paul Robeson singing "Ol' man river." Again that same deep, dark voice engraved on my mind.

      Ol' man river
      That ol' man river
      He don't say nothing
      But he must know something
      Cause he just keeps rolling
      Rollin' along.

I didn't yet associate the movie—"Showboat," it was—and those lyrics with slavery. Related things that all the while stood well apart in one single, solitary mind.  23

Giving this some thought, I tend to associate this with Germans under the Nazis. After a long period of poverty, they finally began to enjoy some prosperity, and that while their Jewish fellow citizens were increasingly terrorized and murdered. In full view! Two solitudes in single minds kept apart, notwithstanding. One social, one moral. Consider the effects of upbringing, formal education, and propaganda on "accepted standards"—not "acceptable standards." Consider fear of Nazi goons, of betrayal. Consider this dictionary definition of ethical behavior: "conforming to accepted standards of conduct."  24

On to a different tack—this may seem like rambling—my years toward the B.Sc. were horrible.  25

      I'm tired of livin'
      But I'm scared of dyin'.

I have had happy years since, and some not so good. Life's up and downs. In the early 90s, I became quite concerned with going-ons in my place of work, as others were. I was asked to add my signature on a letter protesting conditons and managerial manipulations, but I decided to instead speak to the Board of Governors directly. I got permission to do so from the then chairman of the Board, who had circulated a letter aimed at restoring a climate of respect and trust. Eventually it came to pass that I wrote a number of letters to my colleages at the college in a way I hoped would have some positive effect.* May be it even did, but people are people are people. It came up in one of them:

      That Ol' Man River,
      He just keeps rolling along.

Why write all this? Aside from long-term social disconnects, my world has been otherwise fragmented over time. Without realizing it. Under the hood, so to speak. Chunks of experience trapped within distinct circuits of the mind. In my own case with some later linking aided by information from the internet.  28

My earliest memory takes me back to when I was about three years old. Walking along a beach I almost drowned where the river Rhine meets the North Sea. I was saved by a lifeguard in white, who then handed me over to two girls who walked me back along the beach, searching for my parents. Not finding them they took me to a police station where I was given a big ball with brightly colored spots. That's where my parents picked me up.  29

What I really remember are only three ever so tiny videos: a man in bright white pulling me up, two girls questioning people along a beach, and that beautiful ball. Maybe a fourth, streetcar tracks near the police station. The rest is stitchel. I guess the same goes for dreams, shards of images linked by immagination. Facts and fiction seamlessly welded. Are dreams a fountainhead of myths? Seems likely to me.  30

We must row wth the oars at hand. Think with whatever minds we have. Have left. Composing verbal rhapsodies to fit some rationale. In a world beyond our ken.  31

Reference  *  fn1

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