By Jerry Zezima

According to an old saying, which is reserved for old people like yours truly, the knees are the first things to go. That’s not true for me because my brain went a long time ago.

But my knees are in painful pursuit because I recently injured one of them while giving horsey rides to my grandchildren.

It happened on the playground outside the school where my grandson was graduating from kindergarten. When I was his age, six and a half decades ago, we didn’t graduate from kindergarten. We were just sent on to first grade with no pomp, circumstance or — what I would have brought to the ceremony — whoopee cushions.

Still, I was proud of my grandson, who got the “Super Speller” award. In kindergarten, I could barely spell my own name, let alone “super.”

My wife, Sue, and I went to the playground with our grandson, who’s 6, and his twin siblings, a girl and a boy who will soon turn 4.

Aside from equipment like slides and monkey bars, the two main features of the playground are: (a) children and (b) artificial turf.

And the children — not just my grandkids but some of their friends and even a couple of complete strangers — all wanted me to get down on my chapped hands and bare knees and give them horsey rides on the plastic grass.

The youngsters, who are wise beyond their years, pegged me as the back end of a nag. So they jumped on, one or two at a time, and yelled, “Giddy-up!”

I said neigh (I should have said nay) and clomped at a pace that would have elicited laughter from a snail before collapsing to catch my bad breath and await the next rider.

It was cruelty to animals. I’m lucky I wasn’t shot and sent to the glue factory. But I kept going until I skinned my left knee so severely that it started to bleed.

“Poppie,” my granddaughter exclaimed, “you need a Band-Aid!”

Her twin brother added sympathetically, “I want another ride!”

When we got back to their house, I asked my granddaughter where the Band-Aids were. She opened a closet door. I found a box of “PAW Patrol” Band-Aids with pictures of the doggie stars of the animated TV series.

When I put one of the colorful adhesive bandages on my knee, her twin brother shrieked, “Hey! You have to have an adult Band-Aid!”

“I like this one,” I told him.

“Why?” he demanded.

“Because,” I explained, “it makes my knee feel better. Am I an adult or a kid?”

“A kid!” my young grandson replied.

“I skinned my knee when I was a little girl,” his sister said, “and by the time I was a big girl, it was all better.”

I hadn’t skinned my knee since I was a little boy. But my knees occasionally give me trouble, such as swelling, creaking and throbbing for absolutely no reason, then feeling better the next day.

My right shoulder also gives me trouble from years of bench-pressing all five of my grandchildren, the oldest of whom is 10. I will lift them in stretched-out form and pretend to fly them through the air like a superhero.

I am convinced I have a torn rotator cuff, which sounds like it should be in a car instead of a geezer.

And don’t even ask about my back, which I sometimes throw out. Unfortunately, the garbageman won’t take it.

When my son-in-law and I took the graduate and his little brother to get their teeth cleaned, the dentist spotted a small cut on my older grandson’s leg, washed it off and put on an adult Band-Aid.

I pointed to my “PAW Patrol” Band-Aid. The dentist smiled and said, “Yours is better.”

On the walk back to the house, my younger grandson challenged me to a foot race.

I grabbed my knee, howled in mock pain and cried, “My boo-boo hurts!”

The little man giggled and said, “You’re a funny guy!”

“Are you going to give me a horsey ride?” I asked.

“No!” came the response. “You’re too old.”

It was, of course, a knee-jerk reaction.

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima

Originally Published on

Jerry Zezima Humorist, Author, Public Nuisance

I write a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to papers nationwide and abroad. If you have ever wondered why the newspaper industry is in trouble, it would be because of me.

As a chilling example of just how low journalistic standards have sunk, I have won many awards, including seven for humorous writing from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

I have a strong social media presence, I have made many radio and television appearances, I have done several YouTube videos, I am a popular public speaker, and I am writing a sitcom. If you think TV is bad now, wait until my show gets on the air.

I live on Long Island, N.Y., with my wife, Sue. We have two daughters, five grandchildren and many creditors. I have no interesting hobbies.

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