the old man

the old man

There was once a man, a very old man,
Who would smoke his pipe all day long,
And who would always sit, and never stand,
While humming to himself some long-forgotten song.

No-one knew his name, but all knew his face,
And like him or not, he was a part of the place,
With his bloodshot eyes and crooked teeth,
And his bony arms and dirty feet.

And all the other kids, they thought he was weird,
And all the adults, they thought he was strange,
But I, on the other hand, wanted to have his beard,
And always wished that I was his age.

“Oh,” I thought to myself, “How wonderful it would be to be old,
To be free from all the parental trappings,
No more ‘come in, or you’ll catch a cold!’,
Oh, how wonderful it would be to be old.”

And I would sit there and dream,
Of all the things I’d do.
I would sit there and dream,
And forget to go to the loo.

One day in school the teacher asked
“Who are your heroes, my dear sons?”
One said “the president,” another said “the pope,”
And as my turn neared I felt like hanging myself from a rope.
So I raised my hand and went
“Teacher, can I go to the toilet?”

So I spent two entire periods
Locked in the bathroom;
My teacher must’ve thought it was serious.

And everytime I walked back from school
He’d be there,
And I thought he looked so cool.
Oh, he always looked so cool.

But one day he stopped coming out of the house,
And behind the windows nothing roused.
No-one cared, they didn’t bother,
They probably thought it was a good thing, one way or the other.

And soon an odour of death
Began emanating from the house,
And everyone had to hold their breath
When they were walking about.

As it turns out, the old man had died and left a corpse.
And since it had been a while
It began to stink, of course.
You could smell it for a mile.

That was when things changed, you see,
And I realized that “old” was one thing I didn’t want to be.
At least, not in any sort of hurry.
At least, not in such a flurry.

And I said to myself:
“Maybe I’ll just grow old gracefully,
accept everything that life throws at me gratefully,
And stop wishing I was already seventy-three.”

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