I'm Not Old: Middle-age, aging and the comic truth about human frailty
So, my ass and I are really having issues lately. Many of you may have read my recent article about a pair of fiber bars and the total loss of dignity. Well, the fun just keeps on coming. This time, however, it was not quite so grisly as all that, but it was, well, equally humiliating if on a different plane.
So, here’s what happened: I’m at work writing what I am sure is the most amazing copy of all time—although I can’t for the life of me remember what it was now—and eventually I had to get up for something.
So, up I get, push my rickety chair back, stand, grimace as pain surges through my lumbar region—the price of a Sleep Number Bed, the most wicked deception of all time—and totter off stiffly through labyrinthine veal pens in which sit my co-workers rotting their lives away. That’s when I felt it. The nerve thing.
The back of my thighs, right where they sort of hang over the edge of my chair, just below the cheeks, were having this odd sensation. Not pain so much as just, something not right. I could feel it, like a band across the backs of both legs, a warm not-quite-tingle but not-quite-pain thing. Not pain at all, to be honest, but, well, it was something I’d never felt before.
I'm Not Old.
Which is typical as we age. Our bodies, once spry and resilient, have all kinds of weird crap just suddenly popping up and going wrong, sensations we never knew and never believed that we would know. We’ve all heard the old-man jokes. The hemorrhoids and hernias and incontinence jokes. We all know it’s technically coming, but we all like to think it’s going to be a long time before our bodies start breaking down. Before they fail.
I can remember blowing off my receding hairline. My old man was bald, all my grandfathers were bald. Hell, even my father-in-law is bald, so, you know, I never had a chance. And it’s fine. So I’m bald. I make “higher-evolution” jokes and point out monkeys are hairy. Who’s a monkey now? Being bald is fine. But it didn’t stop there.
When I get sick or when something unexpected happens to my body now, I worry. I didn’t used to worry, but I do now. When I notice a lump in a lymph node or a bump on a body part, I quickly check to see if I have one to match on the other side. Our bodies are symmetrical after all; I know this because I’m old enough to have learned what “symmetrical” means. And that’s the problem too: knowledge. They say knowledge is power, but sometimes it’s just a pain in the ass, especially if you are old and having some unexpected pain in the ass. Knowledge becomes the source of anxiety, especially imperfect knowledge, and the older you get, the more you hear, learn and see. The more you hear, learn and see, the more you have to worry about.
When you’re twenty-four, a lump somewhere is “probably a zit” or it’s an “I don’t know what it is, but it will go away” sort of thing. Nothing is ever a worry. You’re twenty-four—death is so far away it’s not even a joke yet. But when you start getting old, when you begin to become aware of mortality, every lump is a sure sign of cancer or something else just as bad; it’s always a harbinger of death and misery. A reminder that the grim reaper now knows your name.
So me, with my intemperate, fiber-hating intestines and my hairless Darwinian pate found myself confronted with my latest physical failure, something new to give testament to my impending demise. Nerve disorder.
I steeled myself, took a deep breath so that I wouldn’t let myself stress out. I gave it time to go away; it could just be the pressure from sitting too long had made a strip of flesh go numb across the backs of both of my legs. I told myself I was being silly, too young at forty-three to worry like I was. But, alas, the truth is not always as pleasant as we might hope.
Finally unable to bear it any longer, I decided I had to investigate. I’m not a doctor, of course, but, you know how it goes: you always go look for yourself first, run your ape-fingers over the tender area, the bump, the discoloration as if somehow you might know what that is, might be able, amazingly, with your acute but total lack of medical training, make the diagnosis of something less than benign. So, somewhere between hope and the certainty of death, the self-exam begins.
I found a discrete locality. I looked furtively about, making sure the coast was clear, that there would be no witness to the horror that flushed my face when the fatal truth was found. I was in the clear. So I fished down into the back of my britches to face it, reached down seeking the first tactile glance of whatever this newest thing was, this latest human failing that had now gone horribly wrong with me. I dreaded what I was going to find.
The elastic band on my underpants had given way.
Yes, with a last elastic gasp, the tatty old things had just slipped right down my backside and bunched up across the back of my thighs inside my pants, creating something of a lump. That was my impending doom. My imminent demise. My goddamn underpants. The only thing dying was my waistband. And my pride. Both dead as a pair of boxer’s had its last hurrah, a last morning clinging to me and then they fell, mortally wounded down the back of my jeans, leaving me, the timorous middle-aged moron, in a fright thinking that the Reaper had rung the bell. Ding-dong. “Hello. Excuse me, is there a Mr. Shadesbreath here? I have a surprise for him.” And at work no less, an ignominious death to be found in a cubicle, my body contorted by the last spasms of agony, limbs akimbo, fluids loose, struck down by the dreaded Numb-Thigh Disease. NTD they would call it in my obituary. Found in a pile in a cubicle. Only the bathroom would be a worse place to die.
So I was fine. I am fine. But, My God, I thought as I stood there. What’s wrong with me? Then I laughed. What an idiot. How many more of these moments will I have before I can finally accept mortality gracefully, with dignity. I don’t want to become that old man who talks incessantly about his recent surgery, about his ailments and his pains, about the horrors of a hospital experience. I want to laugh in the face of death, “Hah Hah!” like the great, incomparable Jackamo. That’s what I want to do. And I’m working on it.
Until then, well, I need some new underpants.
The Incomparable Jackamo!
BUY Jackamo's movie - it's hilarious!
A Funny Hub by a Fellow Hubber
- Facial Symmetry - - Which Side of Your Face is Your Good Side?
I know you read past the link above, so you should go check out this guy's hub. It's funny, and true. LOL. Between this guy's hub and mine, I think we have a case for God being a prankster at the very least, if not one for him not being at all.