“gee-zer (gē’zĕr), n, [Slang], an eccentric old man.” That is how Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (from my personal 1966 edition, because no self-respecting geezer would ever look it up on Dictionary.com) defines the word.
I entered the realm of geezerhood at a very early age when my then 8 year old daughter bestowed upon me the title of ‘Old Geezer’. I was 31, positively ancient to an eight year old. Oh, it all happened innocently enough. While playing tag (do kids even do that anymore?) with my daughter and her friend on a warm summer evening, she declared that “An old geezer like you can never catch us!” The statement spilled from her lips with such matter of fact certainty that I burst out laughing.
“Old geezer? Did you just call me an old geezer?” I laughed as I feigned stumbling after her to tag her since I was “it” at the time. Naturally this elicited much giggling and laughter from the two girls. And, of course, now officially an old geezer, I could not possibly, in the name of good sportsmanship, appear to catch either one of them too easily. In fact, the little devils were pretty quick but I eventually managed to tag one of them and shed the burden of being “it”. I quickly threw down the gauntlet.
“Who’s the “old geezer” now?” I challenged. Faced with the embarrassment of having been run down by a geriatric adult, the two of them hatched a diabolical plan to double-team me. They would willingly trade off being “it” with each other so that the free one could try to steer me in the direction of “it”. I think it must have been borne of some sort of primal herding instinct, cave dwellers bent on catching their prey. And I believe the pair of them truly relished the conspiratorial nature of their plan.
“Unfair! Two against one! Unfair!” I shouted as I continued to evade their attempts to trap me. The pair of them just giggled more and laughed louder chasing after me screaming, “Catch the geezer, catch the old geezer!”
Looking back now, I think the girls were laughing harder simply because they found the sound of the word “geezer” funny, more than the fact that they had pinned the label on me.
“And what will you do with him if you catch him?” I asked as I continued to evade their trap. “Put the geezer in the freezer?”
Only kids could find that kind of pathetic poetry funny, and the two girls thought it was absolutely hilarious. They were laughing so hard they could barely remain standing much less run to catch me. Of course, their raucous laughter served only to make me laugh even more, slowing me down as well.
A few moments later the game was over as I collapsed on the soft green summer grass pinned under a hundred pounds of laughing 8 year olds.
Later that evening as I tucked my daughter in to bed she said, “Daddy today was a fun day.”
“Yes it was, Peanut, it sure was” I replied with a smile. Leaning over to kiss her forehead, I said, “Good night, Peanut. Sleep tight.”
“Good night, Daddy. I love you.”
“I love you too. See you in the morning.”
As I reached the bedroom doorway I heard a tiny giggle from the bed. “What’s so funny, Peanut?”
“Good night,” she paused, and then in a soft, almost cautious voice, “geezer.” she giggled.
Chuckling, I said “Good night, silly girl”. And that’s when I knew. From that day forward, no matter my chronological age, I would always be an Old Geezer. I still tell myself there are worse things.