"Flip Wilson dead at 64."

It was at the top of a list of the news headlines on my Internet service provider’s home page. "Hmm," I muttered and went on with my search for stock prices. Then it occurred to me that, if all his death warranted from me was a "Hmm," then when my time comes it would certainly make less of a ripple in the scheme of things. My death wouldn’t make news on any home page, and my personal home page would go on living unchanged until some little known administrator noticed that it was inactive and archived it, much like God had archived me.

Lately I’ve noticed that I go "Hmm" a lot more, and not just when people I know die, although more of that is happening. That is to be expected as the earth’s population increases and the people I know get older. The real reason for my "Hmm" is that the older I get, the less impressionable I am. This also makes it increasingly difficult to have a really good time on vacation.

My increasing lack of impressionability was brought to my attention about fifteen years ago while riding in a utility van driven by Jack, a lifelong friend. As we went around a corner from Broadway onto 43rd street in Manhattan, a loud bang came from the front of the van and we listed to the left. We stopped and Jack quietly got out to see what was wrong. Returning a minute later he said, with as much calm as if he was reporting the temperature, "The wheel fell off."

I said "Hmm.." and my young girlfriend broke into hysterical laughter that, to this day, reoccurs when the incident is mentioned. Her reaction was to our apparent indifference to a situation that she perceived to be a crisis. What a difference nineteen years makes.

One of the questionable benefits from becoming less impressionable is that you grow less likely to be aware of it, and when you do realize it, you are not concerned. You don’t have to remember as much because there are fewer things that you deem important enough to remember. For example, I’ve always had trouble remembering a person’s name when I’m introduced, and if I’m introduced to more than one person at the same time, it becomes a hopeless situation. But thanks to my growing indifference, my inability to remember names is, like warts on a toad, no longer a big deal. I’ve become comfortable with it.

There was a time when computer crashes, files disappearing, and other computer error messages made me to want to break things. No more. Problems have become things to bypass or ignore. But the really good thing about my increasing indifference is that by the time I realize I’m dying, I probably won’t care. I suspect my last words will be "Hmm…"

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