When I was in high school, I had a crush on a well-liked cheerleader, Jane. I never watched her cheer on the teams, though, because I eschewed sports. But we were in a few classes together; and had been since junior high, including one or two art classes. I found her beautiful and outgoing. And she was extremely popular. I was plain and introverted and invisible. It would have been madness to have revealed to her that I found her interesting and attractive. I was certain she would have laughed at me, had I asked her out on a date.

Many years later, I had the opportunity to meet her for coffee while I was on a business trip that took me back to my hometown on the Texas coast. I had overcome much of my shyness by then and I told her about the crush I had on her and how I had wanted to ask her out but dared not, for fear of painful rejection. She did not know of my interest, she said. But she revealed that she felt isolated and lonely during her cheerleading days.

Her comments were something like this: “Nobody asked me out. I think they felt like you did. They thought I was unapproachable. I was not as outgoing as everyone thought. I was lonely.”

My wife and I had occasion later, during a pleasure trip to South Texas, to visit with Jane. I think I introduced Jane as someone “I had a crush on in high school.” We laughed about it, but my earlier conversation with Jane was on my mind. I felt some responsibility for her loneliness forty years earlier.

Those memories surface from time to time. When they do, I wonder whether I have ever been the subject of a “crush.” I rather doubt it, but I suppose it’s possible that, like Jane, I was simply unaware of it.


My wife seemed more alert and lively during yesterday’s visit than the day before, but she was not bubbly. She was watching a soccer game on television; the day before, she had been watching football. She has no interest in either, but I think she has trouble changing channels, so she watches what is on the screen.

I will visit her this afternoon after my scheduled blood draw and port flush at my oncologist’s office.  One of her nurses asked me to bring my wife’s compression sleeve, so I put in in the car last night, along with a couple of magazines my wife wants. I hope to have the opportunity to speak with the administrator, the director of nursing, and the director of therapy today; I want to hear about, if not see, a plan of treatment and a timeline.


One of my brothers recently developed an interest in tasting a mixed drink he had never before had, a Sidecar. He tried it and was not impressed. I had not had the pleasure of drinking a Sidecar, either, so I decided to make one yesterday. Though the recipes call for cognac, I decided an inexpensive brandy would have to do (inasmuch as I had no cognac in the house). Whether such a brandy-based drink still is called a Sidecar, I do not know, but until I am told otherwise, I will say it is. I made the drink using the following recipe:

  • 1 ounce brandy
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass

I liked it quite a lot! So much so, in fact, that I can imagine letting myself become attached to it, so I had best be careful.


Yesterday, I learned that the “agreed” point at which a person becomes “elderly” is age 65. That’s according to Elizz. This morning, I decided to explore further. An article on says this:

In the same way other words have morphed into widespread acceptability–handicapped to disabled; Oriental to Asian; retarded to mentally challenged, and even though words are in flux–elderly is becoming politically (and politely) incorrect. Certain terms apparently have term limits.

The article continues:

“Nobody likes to think of themselves as old, let alone very old,” says Michael Vuolo, co-host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast. “Elderly often carries the connotation of feeble and dependent. Which is offensive if you’re not and condescendingly euphemistic if you are.”

So, I propose we begin to use these terms, as appropriate: “energetically old” and “fragilely old.” But I bet someone will object strenuously. In fact, that someone could be me. 😉


The crick in my neck and my very sore shoulder have not departed. I must find a masseuse or one of those electric devices that shock the muscles into cheerful compliance with demands for comfort. I might call the local chiropractor for a “fix.” This is getting old fast. I do not want it to get fragilely old, either.


My sister-in-law just texted me; she will soon deliver, courtesy of a neighbor, sausages, biscuits, and gravy. I must prepare for this feast!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to Fragile

  1. Colleen Boardman says:

    Yes, Marilyn, she’s great too. Tell them hello from me if you go. I haven’t been since Covid started.

  2. I’m with you, Colleen. I hate to lump people into a category that suggests frailty. Matt is the guy I will see, if I decide to go. I’ve been to him before and I like the electronic gadgetry his staff uses. Is it Marilyn who used to gently electrocute me? 😉 Yes, Pat, good news (even in brief doses) is welcome!

  3. Colleen Boardman says:

    I strongly disagree that 65 is elderly; nor is 68 elderly. At this point, I’m going with 90. If you don’t have a chiropractor, I highly recommend Matt Huneycutt.

  4. Pat Newcomb says:

    Glad to have some good news on Janine – better energy and engagement!

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