Thursday, August 2, 2007

The difference between men and boys

No politics today. Unless it's a discussion about bridge safety or the like.

It's said -- with some accuracy -- that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. But that's not the complete picture.

As I experience the downward slope of middle age I am firmly convinced that the real difference is the capacity to grieve. You don't really think much about this when your life seems to have an inexhaustible number of days. With gray hair and middle age paunch that comes with the territory.

At this age, I looked at the reports from Minneapolis last night and thought about the hundreds of times I've been on that bridge. I also saw that school bus next to the burning semi and worried as any father would do about the children that may have been inside. I was relieved to learn that they were all rescued.

Then there's all these younger people I know with health problems and some pretty scary issues facing them. Those things are only supposed to happen to us older folks, not to kids (and I think of people in their 20's as kids).

When some kid is killed in a car crash, that could be your kid. You think of the life lost so soon and the pain the family must be feeling.

You see these kids and you think of them as someone else's son or daughter -- then the dad instinct rolls in.

As I write this Senator Norm Coleman, an old buddy from my younger days, is speaking on television. Knowing Norm man-to-man I don't see the suit or politcian's hairdo but rather a person I discussed tough cases with and someone who must be feeling the same emotions I am -- probably worse -- but has to say the "right things" at a time like this. I see a guy who was mayor of St. Paul and thus must feel in his gut how something like the bridge collapse has torn at the heart of the city.

It's a time of mixed feelings. When I saw the police officer with the yellow rope tied around her wading through the river to check cars for possible occupants to be rescued, I thought of how if I was her father I'd be both scared for and extremly proud of her.

Golden years? Bull______.

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