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I got my clarinet out of storage yesterday. I opened the case with it’s banged up corners and one sprung lock. My clarinet and I have travelled a few miles and years together long ago. Like many things that age, it isn’t what it used to be. It now has new corks, a different mouthpiece than the original and tarnished keys. I stuck a reed in my mouth to soften it while I straightened my hair for church.

Seeing my image in the mirror reminded me of those faraway days in Symphonic Band. While the brass players were warming up their lips, jamming on the high notes, and exchanging witty stories, the woodwinds (flutes excepted) were sitting dumbly with reeds stuck in their mouths like rows of gaunt Maori warriors, only with skinny wooden tongues hanging out.

I assembled my clarinet and sat down to play a Mozart concerto for clarinet. And though the finger memory was mostly retained, my mouth muscles were shot. Do you know certain instruments squeak? Violins squeak. Clarinets squeak. I do not think it is what Mozart envisioned. I could see my old band teacher, Mr. Webster flashing a lowered brow look of disapproval.

Wouldn’t it be nice if muscles were permanent? I’d still be able to do the splits, kick over my head and run twice as far. And play Mozart.

The muscle I’m most afraid of losing is my brain. My family jokes that someday someone will notice, “I haven’t seen your mom in awhile.” “Oh, we lost her.” “I’m sorry, when did she pass away?” “She didn’t, anyway, we think she’s still around somewhere. But she wandered off and we lost her.”

The atrophy is already beginning. I recognize that. That is why in a world of passwords, I finally created a file just for passwords—there are entries for Goodreads, FB, ymail, gmail, and half a dozen others. But the file is not very secure, because I’m afraid to protect it with a password.

I really don’t mind growing older. Yet.
I read this recently:

A mature lady was pulled over for speeding…
Older Woman: Is there a problem, Officer?
Officer: Ma’am, you were speeding.
Older Woman: Oh, I see.
Officer: Can I see your license please?
Older Woman: I’d give it to you but I don’t have one.
Officer: Why don’t you have one?
Older Woman: I lost it 4 years ago for drunk driving.
Officer: For drunk…Can I see your vehicle registration papers please.
Older Woman: I can’t do that.
Officer: Why not?
Older Woman: I stole this car.
Officer: Stole it?
Older Woman: Yes, but unfortunately, when the owner tried to stop me, I ran over him. I didn’t want to leave him in the road, so I shoved him into the trunk.
Officer: You what?
Older Woman: It’s OK officer, he was already dead.
The Officer looked at the woman and slowly backed away to his car where he called for back up. Within minutes another police car arrived. A senior officer slowly approached the car, one hand resting on his gun.
Officer 2: Ma’am, could you step out of your vehicle, please!
The woman stepped out.
Older Woman: Is there a problem sir?
Officer 2: One of my officers told me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.
Older Woman: Murdered the owner?
Officer 2: Yes, could you open the trunk of your car, please.
The woman opened the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.
Officer: Where’s the body?
Officer 2: Does the vehicle have registration with it?
Older Woman: Yes, here are the papers
Officer 2: The officer claimed that you do not have a driver’s license.
The woman dug into her handbag and pulled out a clutch purse, removed her license and handed it to the officer. The officer examined the license.
Officer 2: Thank you ma’am, the officer who pulled you over told me you didn’t have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered the owner.
Older Woman: Bet the liar told you I was speeding, too.

Watch out for us, because older women will take over the world one day. I’ll be the one playing the squeaky clarinet.