Bonner Day: Life doesn’t get any easier with age

Bonner Day

Bonner Day

As I grow older, the world gets more and more complicated. When the pearly gates beckon, I think I will be eager to go.

I have known that life and change go together, but why does it have to be so difficult to understand and so hard to adjust?

When I was growing up, if a bear or cougar wandered into town, somebody, usually a sheriff’s deputy, would shoot it and haul the carcass to the garbage dump. Once a retired rancher’s wife shot a cougar in her back yard. Today, if a bear won’t return to the woods, a team of representatives paid by the federal government hauls it back to the forest. It costs more, but I’m told it’s only federal money.

My first car was a Model A Ford. The headlights had one switch, on or off. My latest Ford has lights so complicated I have taken the driver’s manual out several times to review the options — manual, automatic, light sensitive. More than once I have returned to the car to make sure all the lights are off.

Then I moved into the credit card world. Just as I became used to sliding the plastic in the groove, the security chip popped up. Now I have to decide how the machine wants my card, then search for the credit or debit button.

Once we could go the airport, check our luggage and get on board. Now we go two hours early. We pack not for our convenience, but for the convenience of the airport guards, being especially careful of our liquids. I was given a money holder with a fingernail file. Because it was a gift, the monogrammed holder had sentimental value. The airport guard let me pass, but he kept the file to prevent me from attacking the crew or passengers.

When I started first grade, everybody seemed to know which bathroom to use. We soon learned it was a foolproof way to get a break from class. If you abused the privilege by staying too long or skipped the class entirely, you were punished. But it was never a federal case.

Now going to the bathroom is a federal case.

The Obama administration is suing North Carolina over its decision to restrict bathroom privileges in schools and state government buildings to correspond with the gender listed on birth certificates.  In plain language, if you were born a boy, North Carolina says you can’t use the girl’s bathroom. The Obama administration says you can if you feel you are really a girl, and threatens to withhold millions of dollars in federal school funds.

To complicate the situation further, if that is possible, the NCAA, the organization in charge of the nation’s college athletic contests, agrees with the Obama bathroom policy and is punishing North Carolina colleges.

I don’t know when the battle over bathrooms will reach the valley. In the meantime, I try to use the bathroom at home just in case the federal government is watching.

The complications of modern society have given me recurrent nightmares: I’m driving in a dark tunnel and I can’t turn on my car lights. Airport guards take turns frisking me while a supervisor cleans his nails with my file. A bear chases my wife and forest rangers in “Smokey” hats watch to ensure I respond appropriately. But my worst dream is going to a national championship basketball game and finding women in all the bathrooms.

Bonner Day raises cattle and roses in the valley with his wife and a very independent cat. Email:

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