Free to Say What You Want

What I love about people as they age is they become freer to say what they want. I am not sure why? Is it because sage wisdom sets in or is it the fact that people just don’t believe there is a lot of risk? Maybe it’s just because they have grown to a point where they have the confidence to be and say who they are?

My mother was like that. She would say things that would make me want to crawl under the table. Because she grew up in India, she thought every person who had darker skin was from India. She once argued with our waiter, who she had coaxed out of him that he was from Iran, and tried to convince him that he was from Bombay.

If food didn’t taste good, she would not only tell the waitress to take it off her bill, but she would also say, “This tastes like shxx! Do I need to go back there and give your cook some lessons?” She was never embarrassed for saying these things.

But no one was more honest about their opinions than Andy Rooney, who passed away this weekend. He not only told it like it was, but got paid to do so. He also hated attention from his fans.

In 2006, the Seattle Seahawks were playing Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl in Detroit. I went as a loyal fan to cheer on my team. I was walking through my hotel when I spotted an elderly man hunched over, white hair going everywhere, with a trench coat that draped over him like an eight-man tent. He moved at the speed of an aging tortoise. It was Andy Rooney. As I walked toward him, his eyes stared at the carpet. In my best cheery voice I said, “Andy Rooney!”  His only response to me was, “Keep walkin’.”  That was who he was.

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