Saturday, January 21, 2012

Retirement Variations — Tebowing for Retirees

Coverage of Tim Tebow praying on bended knee, after scoring a touchdown or completing a “Hail Mary” pass, has been inescapable. For those scarce few who are unfamiliar with “Tebowing,” his position is a cross between Rodin’s “The Thinker” and Friberg’s Washington praying in the snow at Valley Forge.

Now that the Denver Broncos have been knocked out of the AFC playoffs, Tebow and his pose are disappearing from the media. I’m here to help those suffering from Tebow withdrawal. Retirees have several poses that we strike almost daily that are worthy of as much media attention as “Tebowing.” Perhaps more.

First and most important is “Elbowing.” This is the pose we strike when we’re in a crowded area and we can tell that the younger folk around expect to steamroller past us. You can almost see the thought balloon over their heads: “Retiree. Unstable on her feet. Not much energy left. I can just push by her and get ahead in line.” As if.

This is when we strike one of our most effective poses. Elbows sharply bent, hands in fists, positioned at chest height for maximum angularity. We look like we’re about to do the chicken dance, which disarms the young’uns, so they’re off guard for what’s coming. This is not the same position as akimbo (hands on hips). Try them both and you’ll see how much more effective elbowing will be for crowd control. And retribution.

The second retiree pose is the aptly-named “Get Going.” This is the one we fall into as we get out of bed. When we place our feet on the floor, we’re bent over slightly (or more than slightly) at the waist. As we stand up (or try to), the waist bend remains for several minutes, until we overcome our inertia and finally get going. Stiff, arthritic knees make it even harder to get going, so there’s a motion component as well. Or more precisely, a lack-of-motion component.

One of the more subtle poses favored by retirees is the “Tilt and Cup,” wherein the head is held sideways and tilted back slightly, with hand cupped at the back of the ear. This pushes the ear forward, so sounds bounce off the inside of the hand into the ear canal. This pose is seen most often in crowds of retirees, when people are all talking at once and the decibel level is high. A group “Tilt and Cup” can look like a flash mob to those who aren’t close to retirement, making them think we’re cool.

Some folks mistake the “What For” for the ”Tilt and Cup,” but it’s a distinct retiree stance. We use it when we head from one room to another for a purpose that we've lost sight of by the time we get there. We stop, tilt our head, and rub our chin thoughtfully, as though it’s a magic lamp that can summon the Memory Genie.

Occasionally, we try to summon the genie by rubbing one of our temples. From behind, it can appear that we’re rubbing our ear, which is probably how the confusion with the “Tilt and Cup” came about. If the “What For” pose is struck before we reach our destination, it’s referred to as the “Where To.” If you’re already retired, you know why.

The “Teeter-Totter” is not as much a pose as a method of locomotion. You’ll recognize it by the almost-imperceptible shifting from foot to foot, with virtually no forward progress. As we transition into retirement, we somehow get the idea that moving side to side is a better way to get from here to there than moving directly forward. No one seems able to explain this, but we see it all the time.

The “Teeter-Totter” is often paired with the “Chair Crane,” which is an actual pose, though barely. Since forward t-t motion is awkward, the person teetering often grabs hold of the arm or back of a nearby chair with one hand. This is intended to prevent tottering into something or someone en route. The t-t-er then lifts the opposite foot as he takes the “Chair Crane” stance ever so briefly, but often multiple times, as he progresses from point A to point B.

Finally, I present the  quintessential retiree pose—the “LayZbo.” Here’s how it works. Plop yourself into a recliner. Tilt the chair back and clasp your hands behind your head. Put your feet up on the footrest or matching hassock. You’re now doing the “LayZbo,” one of the great joys of retirement.

Tim Tebow, eat your heart out.

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