Carnes: Locker number change a major milestone

My memory is not what it used to be.

Sure, I can recall my first kiss with Cathy Cooper on the steps of Preston Hollow Elementary in 1972 Dallas with phenomenal prepubescent detail, but I have to stop and think to remember if I took my vitamins this morning.

And it’s only noon.

One of the ways I’ve been at least partially able to stay on the memory track is using the locker number at The Westin gym that matches my age.

As I crept through my 50s it was simple; like taking a picture of your parking section at Denver International Airport so you can find your car upon returning, I simply used the corresponding locker number of my age so I wouldn’t look like more of a doofus than I already do three days a week.

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But — and I’m being really honest here — this sudden transition to 60 is, how should I say, “messing” with my head.

It’s not that locker No. 60 is on the lower locker level, forcing me to bend down to access the code thingamajig; it’s the simple fact that the big Six-Oh (NO!) is just that — a damn big number.

But don’t get me wrong, as turning 60 certainly beats the alternate of not turning 60, in which case I wouldn’t be writing this week’s column. (To paraphrase Jeb Bush: Please stop clapping.)

Speaking of that, I’ve had the distinct honor of scribbling down these babblings every Tuesday for more than 20 years, with more than 1,000 columns and counting.

A sincere thank you to those who have responded positively over the years, and an even bigger thank you to those who attack me personally as opposed to having the intellect to defend a position.

All are regular readers.

As I was saying though, turning 60 has provided me with certain insights to the world, especially our Happy Valley world, and along with it a security level I never would have dreamed possible a few decades ago.

For instance, I have anosmia.

Lacking a sense of smell seems perfectly normal to me, but when discovered, the first question I always receive is, “How do you taste?”

“Very well, I think. Ask my wife …” is my standard response while mimicking Groucho Marx with a cigar.

Yep, I’m a funny guy.

And it was 30 years ago last week, at my 30th birthday party, when my mom casually mentioned, “Oh yes, your grandfather couldn’t smell either.”

Having spent my entire life to that point pretending to smell what everyone else in the room was smelling (food, flowers, farts, etc.), I was rather vocal at learning it was a genetic disorder and not a burden that was mine alone to carry.

Not that it’s a burden, but you know what I mean.

So for the second half of my life, I’ve been comfortable not smelling basically anything while putting up with people thinking they’re being creative with their comments.

“Oh my god that smells horrible. Let’s send Richard in to see what it is!”

If anything, it helped my acting skills in certain situations but was something my insecurities prevented me from discussing for years.

At 60 I am no longer hesitant to discuss damn near anything with damn near anyone, but I think I’ll jump ahead and start using locker No. 61.

That way I won’t have to bend down.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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