CARSON CITY, NV—Looking out his window as the cars zoom by and a jet plane rumbles overhead, 87-year-old Hank Fletcher sees a world far different from the one in which he grew up. In his day, the retired factory worker says, life was simpler. The streets were quieter, people were more polite, neighbors all knew one another, and his anus did not emit oily discharges of liquid stool.
But times have changed.
"When I was a young man, there was no uncertainty in the world—dinner was at 5:30 sharp, people who got married stayed that way, and my anus didn't leak," Fletcher says. "I can still remember playing stickball till the sun dipped below the trees. Why, I'd round the bases pretending I was Rogers Hornsby without ever having to think about a viscous brown liquid trickling down my leg. The future seemed so bright."
As time marches on, Fletcher remains one of the last direct links to a bygone era of American life when people passed their evenings relaxing by the fireside or listening to Hopalong Cassidy on the radio. Mothers and fathers would sit on couches free from protective plastic covers, and children would play games in the corner, oblivious to the crime, famine, and warm streams of fluid seeping out of their anal cavities that seem so commonplace today.
"How I loved to stroll down the promenade arm in arm with my best gal, Dorothy," Fletcher says, shifting in his chair as he pages wistfully through a faded old scrapbook. "We'd talk and laugh, unconstrained by bulky plastic sacks tied to our waists, and go into all the shops—never to buy anything, of course, just to look and to dream. We'd wander along the boardwalk all evening, she with her blue Gainsborough hat and I with my clean underpants, all the while holding hands and not ejecting fecal matter from our anuses."
"But Dorothy's been gone for many a year now," he adds as he closes the scrapbook, "and as for my anus, well, as I said before, it leaks constantly."
Seated on a rocking chair covered in a blue tarpaulin to protect the wood from foul-smelling stains, Fletcher chuckled to recall how tiny and hard to come by TV sets were in those days. His family had only one car, he could see a movie for a quarter, soda pop only cost a nickel, and his sphincter was strong enough to expand and contract when he intended instead of hanging permanently open like an unlatched floodgate.
"Back then, the days were as cool and sweet as a sip of lemonade, and the night sky was filled to the brim with bright shiny stars," Fletcher says. "Now there's so much noise and pollution that you can't even hear yourself think. People are always screaming and shouting for no good reason, zipping around from place to place, and the hustle and the bustle and my anus leaks, and it's all computers."
"Glenn Miller, jalopy rides, Lucky Lindy, my non-leaking anus," Fletcher adds. "Those were the days."
Indeed, this octogenarian lived most his life in a time that made him proud to be an American and during which he did not have to change his pants five times a day. He can recall as if it were yesterday seeing the troops come home after Normandy, when the nation was riding high and his feces were satisfyingly firm cylinders that easily held their shape in water; and watching two men land on the moon just moments after he expelled the contents of his bowels all at once in the bathroom rather than in dribs and drabs over the course of an afternoon. Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists flew two hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and Fletcher's anus leaked, and he knew the world had changed forever.
"Things ain't how they used to be," he says, shaking his head. "Especially in regards to my anus."
Despite it all, Fletcher admits that today's youth have it harder than ever. Amid fears of war, global warming, and political instability, Fletcher leaves the younger generations with a simple word of advice from a man who has seen it all.
"Every once in a while, take a moment to appreciate everything you have in this life," Fletcher says, "because before you know it, the world will pass you by, and also your underpants will be moist with shit."