If I Shuffle Too Much, Just Needle Me !

| February 22, 2011 | Comments (2)


I’m going on 72 and I’ve started to shuffle.  Not the jazzy musical shuffle as in  “shuffle off  to Buffalo”, but  a real senior shuffle. I noticed it the other day walking in mid-town Manhattan. Passing a glass high-rise I saw my reflection in the  shiney window. At first I didn’t recognize the old silhouette, moving along ever so slowly, feet not lifting with each step, shoes just rubbing the sidewalk, sliding along like an ancient Michael Jackson Moonwalker.

I kept watching my shadow as I passed more glass windows. The first building wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t fooling me. There  he was again ! That senior shuffling  along, being passed by  other pedestrians – highly pregnant women, ladies in 5 -inch heels, delivery boys with heavy loads AND other seniors ! And he was stooped over, head pointed forward, slightly down, definitely pre-wombic!

 Not trusting an inanimate  pane of glass to tell me what I looked like , I asked my friend Rose, who always tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar-coat: Do I walk like an old person?  She and the skyscraper were one; yes, I do shuffle and stoop over when I walk.

Rose sends me to her acupuncturist saying he will set things right. Dr. Woo is a triple threat. Not only is he an acupuncturist. He is also a western MD, an opera singer (Mozart not Beijing) and a martial-arts master. I enter his chambers  and his charming assistant, whom I will nickname the Lady from Shanghai, or Shanghai Lil for short, motions me into a private treatment room. Shanghai Lil invites me to recline and offers me earphones; Puccini gushes from the styrofoam and I assume a horizontal attitude, relax, listen and look at the ceiling.

Sometime later – who knows? ten minutes, half-an-hour? When Joan Sutherland has penetrated your inner ear, time is immaterial and un-countable –  a gentleman I presume to be the good doctor, enters and with hand  movements, indicates that I should get up and walk for him. I execute my cat walk trying to be spry but not too bouncey. Still not speaking, he motions me back to the table where I resume my prone position, face down, and receive numerous needles in various posterior locations.

More Joan Sutherland and the passage of time.The wall clock tells me another hour has gone by.  Dr. Woo re-appears, removes my headphones, looks me squarely in the eye and chants staccato-like, “Sit like Buddha, stand like tree, walk like soldier!” Motioning to the door he dismisses me with a definitive, “Thank you!”

Dr. Woo’s treatment – and may I also mention the kind ministrations of  charming Shanghai Lil – has transformed me. Not only do I sit like Buddha and stand like a tree, I now shuffle … like a soldier ! Was it General MacArthur who said,”Old soldiers never die, they just shuffle away?”

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  1. Roger Cranse says:

    Ah, yes, those storefront mirrors! Takes a moment to recognize the ancient image: OMG, that’s me! Great descriptions, Sam, loved your post. My step is still somewhat springy due, I think, to regular weight training: a Nautilus circuit three times a week. As we age, according to recent articles in the Times and on NPR, we loose muscle mass alarmingly. (My Mom in her ’80’s did the Times crossword puzzle everyday but could barely get out of her chair.) Weight training is clearly the way to reverse this trend. RC

    • Sam says:

      Roger, you have galvanized me to return to the dreaded weight room and do the “machines’ ! Thanks! Hope I can make it a habit!

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