OpEd: On Turning 70

Norm Kent with his dogs. Photo Via Norm Kent

Next week, most of me will be celebrating my 70th birthday. My two front teeth won’t be.

Late last night, at about 1 a.m, I had just started working on my editorial for this week, which was going to be about the importance of a few gay rights cases being argued before the Supreme Court.

I was walking to the kitchen to make some coffee, which required me to pass through a hallway that I have traversed what — about a half million times while living in the same home for over four decades.

But wait, there’s a wrinkle in the stew.

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It’s late at night, and I am beat and exhausted. Bad knees, dark hallway, no lights on, and a rock hard, tiled floor. What could go wrong?

Well, his name is Shadow, he is my 9 year old, 82 pound very large Black Lab, and that’s where he was sleeping. I was not looking for him, and did not see him. I don’t even remember falling over him or crashing to the ground.

I did not have a chance to grab or hold on to anything. One moment I was standing, and in the space of a moment I did not see coming, I was on the floor trying to stop blood from gushing out of my mouth.

Suddenly not finishing my editorial was not a pressing issue. Earth will remain on its axis without my words populating the pages of SFGN this week. The Dodgers losing game four of the National League playoffs earlier in the evening did not seem as disconcerting either.

My mouth was hurting so much I did not realize how badly I banged up my already-replaced-once knee. And how do you handle a dental catastrophe in the middle of the night ? 

I felt like I was in a car crash in my own house. Of course, living with four dogs, two roommates and a house guest, the place normally looks like a train wreck anyway. But I am very grateful those passengers were around.

John, Brian, and Dilan helped me to a couch, got me ice, a few thousand pain pills, calmed me down, and called the doctors.

The dogs of course were constantly getting in the way by ceaselessly licking me, but I am not sure they weren’t thinking my blood was left over steak sauce from the Whole Foods ribeye we had earlier in the evening.

Anyway, I felt like the lady in the ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up commercial.’ That ‘Life Alert’ gadget suddenly made a lot of sense. I was lucky it was Monday night. Both my roommates are in the hospitality, restaurant and bar business. Fortunately, they are off on Mondays. Normally, they would have been at work.

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So I had immediate and necessary help at my disposal - just no teeth and I couldn’t walk. Plus the Dodgers lost to the Nationals. That’s a felony. Still, It could have been a lot worse.

I could have been temporarily immobilized without the AT&T remote and forced to watch non stop reruns of the Flex Seal commercial on TV. So I was appreciative, but still in pain-and a radio show to do 12 hours later with the editorial page editor of the Sun Sentinel, Rosemary O ‘Hara. How the hell was that going to happen?

You have to look at the sunny side of life though, even in the worst of times. After all, now you don’t have to read another lengthy editorial by me about legal injustice at the highest levels. I will make it brief. The new Supreme Court majority is going to suck for the LGBT community. 

But seriously, I am lucky. My forehead could have struck the ground. I could have been alone, easily knocked unconscious. I could have woken up liking Donald Trump.

So many times in life there are close calls. This was one of them. I am not 30 anymore. Things can happen anytime, at any age, of course. They just happen a little bit more often when you have turned 35 twice. It’s nothing special. Your number just comes up. 

There is a moral here somewhere, like in the play Oklahoma, which began with Gordon McRae singing

“Oh, what a beautiful day. I have got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.” Sometimes, they don’t.

Sill, there’s a bright golden haze on the meadow, and a bunch of new crowns and bridges in my mouth, thanks to Oakland Park Dental and Dr. Howard Cunningham. My thanks to their office for such immediate, professional service.

We are fortunate to be part of a community that has a wealth of dental professionals comparable to Dr. Howard Cunningham, and others, in a host of fields, servicing our lives in the legal, medical, insurance and real estate professions. And not just there, but carpenters and plumbers and mechanics too. We are everywhere. 

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Let’s face it. Be proud. The LGBT community in South Florida is strong. Heck, SFGN has almost 7,500 ballots cast in this year’s ‘Best Of’ edition alone. Vote this week. One is for best dog most likely to trip you. 

I am so grateful to you for supporting our paper, magazine and my radio show. Let me say thank you again. After all, somebody has to pay for my new teeth. You can’t sue your own dog.

You know, we just published our 500th issue of SFGN, and I only have this forum because you have our back. Anyway, enough with the sucking up. I could use a good electrician right now to put a light in my hallway.

And when Tomas from Top Dog Mobile Grooming shows up to bathe Shadow next week, if instead of cutting his nails he knocks out a few teeth, i might understand.


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