Tuesday 3 November 2015

Age Spotting

A foreshadow.

I have tried, but am no longer able to contain the secret that I am aging and, might possibly, already be old. The signs, so far, are small; ranging from slight inconveniences to minor annoyances, but they are reminders that I have reached the point where taking care of myself, no longer takes care of itself.

If I were a banana, I'd be one approaching that border between ripe and rank. Soon, my skin would be speckled and you'd be able to smell me from several feet away. A few age spots and a little A535, and I will be that banana. And, life as an old banana is not grand. First, no one wants to peel you. Then no one even wants to touch you, except the fruit flies... so many fruit flies. Ok, this metaphor may have outlived its usefulness.

For the benefit of those who suspect that they, too, might have become old, I will list some of the subtle signs that I have noticed along the way. If you find yourself relating to any of these points, best put all your affairs in order, if you're having affairs, and prepare yourself for a new phase in life.

Physiological signs:
• Three factions are fighting it out over turf, on the top of my head: Live hairs, dead hairs and absent hairs.

• My sex drive has diminished enough that I can now tell the difference between love and lust, but not yet so much that I can be counted on to care.

• Apparently, sleep has become a contact sport because I can wake up with aches and pains that did not exist when I went to bed.

• My feet no longer tolerate thin-soled shoes without making my leg bones ache.

• My cast iron stomach is turning to crepe paper.

• Occasionally, and seemingly without reason, my elbows get dry and slightly itchy. When they do, I use my wife's skin cream which my kids call "Granny Cream" because it smells like little old lady. Perhaps strangers assume that I'm a little old cross dresser.

• Last summer, I got a small itchy patch of dandruff. Instead of buying a whole bottle of Head & Shoulders, I put "Granny Cream" on it and walked around for three days with a greasy splotch of hair that smelled like little old lady and clashed with my cologne. When I was younger, I'd suffer most any inconvenience to try to fit in. Now that threshold is much lower because I'm starting to not care what people think. Also, I'm convinced that no one is watching.

• A hangover is now a guaranteed outcome, lasts two days and can be brought on by a wine gum.

• The only room I can walk into without forgetting why I came, is the bathroom.

• I used to pee in the time it takes to slice bread. Now, I could make toast. At some point, I suppose, I'll be able to cook a turkey. That will be convenient, twice a year.

• On Friday nights, I'm in fuzzy slippers and pajamas by eight, and hit the pillow at about the time younger people are hitting the streets.

• People no longer tell me that I look young for my age. Even though I try to stay in shape, the best I get is surprise that I don't look older, considering.

• My ability to shut down at bed time has also suffered and now I sometimes spend hours staring at the ceiling, worrying about getting to sleep. There's a crack up there that I should really fix, but then, I think, "What will I stare at?"

• I am writing this article on aging.

• If I put my hand over my heart during the national anthem, people ask me if I'm ok.

• I could still fit all the necessary candles on one birthday cake, but would have to disconnect the smoke alarm. Also, I'd need to buy a larger oven.

• Unless I'm with my parents, wherever I go, I'm the oldest one in the room. Makes me want to go out with my parents more, but I want them to drop me off a block early so that no one thinks I'm with them. I may be growing older, but no one can force me to mature.

• My father's opinions have started making sense to me.

• I have developed my own weird opinions, and I know they're weird and yet I nurture these lines of thought hoping they will blossom into precious but smelly flowers, with sharp thorns and poisonous laser beams. I'm becoming cantankerous, and enjoying the process.

Chronological signs:
• I remember when nature was not just a cable channel, and fruit had a season.

• I learned to read and write in cursive.

• My parents smoked in the car with all the windows rolled up, and with me and my siblings bouncing around loose, in the back.

• At the beach, they slathered us in baby oil for a crisp-all-over tan.

• No one has ever seriously called me "Dude."

• Some of the cool words we used when I was a kid: "keen," "far out," "radical,"and "wicked."

• I am psychically separate from my cell phone for hours, each day and, as long as it still works, I don't care that it's not the latest model.

• I know that it's more cool that my cell phone does not flip, but I secretly wish it would, like Captain Kirk's.

• Foods like glazed donuts and vanilla ice cream taste nothing like I remember them, from my childhood.

• My Mr. Miyagi is Pat Morita.

• I still remember all the actors from movies and TV of my youth, but mostly because their names come up a lot, in obituaries. The youngest actor I really recognize, is Tera Patrick. The youngest one who isn't a porn star, may be Colin Ferrell—and, I'm not a fan. (Mostly because of True Detective, Season 2.)

• I have partied like it was 1999, because it was 1999.

• I once made a girlfriend a mixed tape... on tape.

• When I was young, a package could be shipped without being handled.

• Mine was the generation that stopped all those VCR's and DVD players from flashing "12:00."

Trying to keep up:
• Because I have kids, I know about Pikachu, but am bewildered that there are 717 others, more than 800 episodes, 20 feature films and thousands of toys. When I was a kid, they were somehow able to produce a toy without making a movie and vice-versa.

(If you are interested in weird spin-off products, click here to check out my article on Unlikely Products.)

• I still appreciate a lot of contemporary music, but have no clue what half the rappers are saying. And, when did "hellagood" become a word?

• I recycle, though I really just want to throw everything into a big pile and burn it, using some Styrofoam as starter.

• I know that Miley Cyrus is no longer a Mousekateer and I'm guessing she doesn't use the word, "Golly," too much anymore.

• I know the terms "selfie," "photobomb," "sexting," " ROTFL" and "twerking." And, because I do a lot of renovations myself, I know what an "epic fail" looks like. But I am still a little fuzzy on "Dubstep."

• I have switched from "Rad!" to "Awesome!"

• I realize that "Sharknado" and "Fifty Shades of Grey" are both popular examples in the modern disaster story genre, I just can't remember which of the two took itself seriously.

• I know that you're not supposed to admit that you like Nickleback. But, I do.

• It's now obvious just how badly I missed the boat on Apple and Google stock and am resigned to the fact that I am unlikely to see any return on my AOL and MySpace investments.

• I use social media more than most and know more about it than younger people, because I am an independently published author, and it's part of the marketing side of the job. But, I don't use it to be social.

There are signs yet to come. My mother told me that the first time she felt old was when she walked in on someone who was in the middle of telling a dirty joke, and suddenly, the room went awkwardly silent. If that has happened to you, then you may not be old, but obviously some people think you are. This has not quite happened to me, but the day is drawing near. I've had people at work automatically skip over showing me a picture from Facebook because they assumed I wouldn't really "get it." They're probably right. More telling, yet: I don't care.

The cat is out of the bag and the best I can do now, is try to accept it calmly and try to figure out what aging gracefully looks like. I'm told that as compensation for growing old, there is wisdom. And I look forward to that, when it finally arrives. Also, respect, which I understand may come shortly thereafter. But, from where I'm sitting, these seem about as much compensation as Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto is for the elephant.

On a more serious note... 
check out my time travel action-adventure/literary novel

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