Man with Hat

In the room, the light from the screen, blue on his face. His fingers poised over his keyboard.

It was a matter of focus.

Everything was nowadays. Things were getting smaller. There was no doubt about it. This room. Much smaller than the office in the old house. Shrunk and focused. Everything was getting smaller.

The annoying thing was that he had very little control over this shrinking of things.

The room, the house. Soon to go too. Moving into something smaller. Maybe a room a couple of rooms; more likely just the one. Smaller still. Keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Assisted living. A reduction in responsibility.

Things were being taken away from him.

Her. First and foremost her.

But other things too. The swing of the arm that made the golf

possible. The shortening of tendons. The tightening of joints. With the golf went the time outside, so the world narrowed again. Strange, he thought, how quickly things can escalate, or the opposite of escalate. Whatever the word is when the stopping of things speeds up.

Is there a word? He thought. If not there should be. Retirement?

His world view- that too.

He absentmindedly tugged on his ear lobe and laughed to himself. Maybe not everything was getting smaller. He marvelled at how his ear lobes had continued growing. They were like medals hanging off the side of his head. Amazing things.

This though, this thing he wasn’t doing, this thing he couldn’t do; this was his to control. It was his to do with as he saw fit. And after all the mollycoddling and kid gloves and tiptoeing, he found that he struggled to frame his identity in the requisite words. How to do a marketing job on something that was only a shadow of its previous existence?

He was, he supposed, a weakening brand. There wasn’t many selling points left.

Ironically this wasn’t his idea.

It’s been long enough.

It’s what Mum would have wanted.

You shouldn’t be on your own.

A generation game of clichés.

Emancipate yourself they had told him. Emancipate. He snorted. Emancipate. Empower. Liberate yourself.

From what, he said, it’s not me that’s imprisoning myself, I’m not taking things away from me, that’s you.

They laughed. Just Dad, being Dad.

But, sitting at the machine, fingers on the keyboard he found that he liked the idea. He actually wanted to meet people and this seemed as good a way to do it as any.

Easier in fact. He was never one for small talk, chitchat or charming, seduction and the like. He might enjoy some company though. The cat was warm, loving and furry, but despite its best attempts it wasn’t a great conversationalist.

What to put?

“Lonely old man, soon to live in shoebox in a home chosen by his overbearing, neurotic and Prozac-filled daughter, seeks Anna Nicole-Smith-a-like to ease his last few years with silicon enhanced fun bags.”

He laughed to himself again. Too many words. Not true either. He may as well be honest here. He knew people hid behind the Internet, but what could he put? Athletic? No. Still active? GSOH? Hardly.

Lonely hearts.

He wouldn’t say he was a lonely heart. Of course he wouldn’t. But he knew he was. What a tag though. There was something seedy and desperate about it. It seemed sinister.

A world of polyester and roses in lapels and starched bedspreads with hospital corners.

He ran his hand over his baldhead, his fingers sliding in the sheen of the concentration perspiration. Ran his hand back and forth over his bald pate. Something else taken away from him. His hair. In all honesty this had gone a long time ago. He’d never really gotten over its loss. He looked at photos occasionally, those from his youth. When he could bear it. All wavy and black. Thick and voluminous. He was proud of it, tried to keep it as long as he could, even a pathetic comb-over for a while. Now though, his head shone and he never got over the self-consciousness that this brought to him. Strange, that such a small thing could have such a big effect. He knew the argument that hair loss was related to testosterone. This didn’t matter, if anything its loss emasculated him.

After her, of all the things that had been removed from his life, his hair was the one that left the biggest hole.

Then he had it.

Inspiration.

He huddled over the keyboard. Typed one fingered. Clunky and awkward. His brain way, way quicker than his body still. Sat back in his chair and admired his work with a satisfaction that he hadn’t felt for a very long time.

On the screen, in twelve point times new roman. 18 words. Perfectly formed.

“Man with a hat, seeks like minded companion, who can help give him the confidence to remove it”