My Timely Antagonist


“What’s a protagonist, Mom?” Kathie asked while reading the brief review on a book jacket one morning before school.

“That’s the hero of the story,” I said. “You might not always see them as heroes, but they are usually the main character who you are supposed to identify with as you follow the story. An antagonist is the opposite; they cause the conflict in a story – like Snow White would be a protagonist and the wicked queen who talked to the mirror would be an antagonist.”             

“OK, I got it,” she concluded.

It was a morning to be aware of antagonists. I’m thinking of one that increasingly interferes with my life (he’s known to us all) – old father time. He comes from behind and surprises me so when I bend over to pick anything up from the floor that I always seem to have to groan and grunt out loud in order to raise myself up again. He pricks my fingers around the first knuckles so that they throb every so often, they won’t bend as well as they once did, and they’re beginning to look lumpy just like my mother’s used to.

That’s the way with this old character. He doesn’t intend to be mean, but, over the years, he has pinched my face in the same places so often that it won’t slide back anymore; there are little lines to mark his touch.

When another year rolls around and I’m forced to add a number to my age, even though I intended to keep a low profile, it was difficult when my kids pinned a tag on my shoulder that read “Kiss me, it’s my


They chorused a disappointed “Aahhw!” when they noticed I took it off.

“I’m not wearing that to work!” I pronounced. “Last year I wore that hat you made me with a big 50 on it. That was enough.”

When I entered the camera room at Farm and Dairy, Dave Ketchum, my supervisor, pointed to the card waiting for me that my colleagues had signed. It read, “Lying about your age is no big deal.” (inside)… “Just think of it as “Better Living Through Denial.”

There is someone creating cards out there (and someone buying those cards) who understands me very well.

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