My friend Fleeko, a retired horse jockey, recently turned 65. His only comment? “Whoop-de-doo!”
A feisty, free-spirited sexagenarian fur sure, he struts through the world like a banty rooster. I, of course, am far too pure to endorse his somewhat sophomoric antics. But talk about getting into life!
Each day, Fleeko viciously fights boredom to the hilt. His bigliest fan? His wife Flameekwah. She testifies that “he makes life happen happily, and has a heart even more golden than the world’s most estimable prostitute — well, damn near.”
Living a lifestyle of perpetual self-reinvention, Fleeko often floats a favorite phrase: “I feel like I’m 33. Life begins at 40. I can’t wait.”
Fleeko spends money with gusto, but it’s not his main motivator. His Achilles heel? Fleeko’s addicted to fun. Risky fun — like skydiving while tipsy and boxing much younger men in his weight class. Sometimes slightly illegal fun — like hosting high stakes underground poker games (“the shady art and science of civilized bushwhacking”).
Fleeko also loves to perform politically incorrect jokes. Sometimes his humor satirize his own ethnicity as well as his former profession. (He refers to each of his fellow jockeys as “Shorty”). However, as a proud person of color himself, he’s very selective about to whom he says what and when.
His greatest virtue lies in the piece of Fleeko’s character that fervently rejects hurting anyone’s feelings. He especially harbors a soft spot in his heart for the downtrodden. Even the dregs. Emphasizing that “nobody’s hopeless,” Fleeko delivers spirited lectures at jokey guild assemblies and senior centers, urging volunteers to help rehabilitate the unfortunate.
It’s okay if no one laughs at his jokes or behaviors. Primarily, he performs to entertain only one person. Himself. When others react favorably, that’s just icing on the cake.
Fighting gloom like a fierce warrior, he works to make sure his thrills and chills pale anyone’s mere bucket list.
Spurred by stirring up a self-contained chaos to make life’s situations more interesting, he scoffs at danger. A no-guts-no-glory kind of dude, Fleeko gleefully greets challenges head on, forever fueling his adrenaline. From skiing the slopes of Aspen to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to volunteering as a firefighter.
Fleeko spouts out familiar witticisms to delighted fellow jockeys. He slyly defines horse racing as “an activity in which several thousand people can be taken for a ride at the same time.” And while in the midst of his volunteer job, fellow firefighters laugh politely when Fleeko pats the dog who accompanies them, reciting adages such as “the dog comes along to point us to the nearest fire hydrant!”
His favorite adage? “The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.”
Recently, he attended a nudist event. Not due to any innate exhibitionism, nor any deviant desires to observe other naked people. He sought and assessed the experience only as “. . . a wonderful adventure in total freedom. It included a naked ride on a roller coaster. Whoop-de-doo!”
Sex? “Frequently of course. I’m an authentic sexual technician, a sensual siren,” Fleeko boasts. Addressing his claims, the 53-year-old Flameekwah rolls her eyes. “Fleeko treats romance not so stupidly as a lecherous rogue but more like a treacherous sexual rascal. Believe me, he’s unquestionably a monogamous sexual rascal.”
Flameekwah declares that Fleeko’s loyalty* to her comes with an asterisk: *Or else! She stands five inches taller and outweighs him by 30 pounds. Nuff said?
“Off his leash and living his fantasies, Fleeko would probably be a philandering philanthropist,” Flameekwah giggles.
Flameekwah tells about the time Fleeko introduced her as his girlfriend.
“I thought you were married,” muttered an acquaintance.
“What can I say? My wife simply doesn’t understand me.”
Riding along with the gag, Flameekwah nodded and deadpanned: “Neither do his mistresses simply understand him.”
After over 30 years of “pretty much bliss,” Flameekwah has never abandoned her crafty habit of introducing Fleeko as her first husband (“keeps the little weasel on his toes”).
She attributes her husband’s “kid’s stuff” to the little boy inside of him.”He loves that little boy, and he’ll never let go of him. He better not. I need that kid to stick around myself,” Flameekwah said.
Immaturity be damned, sometimes after a few sips of firewater, the decades-old tiny mite even fancies it fun to make faces at strangers.
Most people lighten up and laugh, but time has taught him very well that there are exceptions. For example, it’s never a good idea to make faces at bartenders.
I love that little kid inside of Fleeko’s psyche, myself. But I play it safe. Vicariously safe. Nevertheless, he inspires me. When I grow up, I wanna be a philandering philanthropist.
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. When asked to take over a theater column at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he began a career as a journalist. This led to numerous publications including theater and book reviews, profiles and Steve’s favorite genre, humor writing. Check out his new humor blog, ESKEWPADES.