Now that I’m Old….
You know what birthdays are good for? Well, perhaps for some, they are the opportunity for asking your partner for a bit of extra romantic attention (wink wink), but that’s not quite what I was thinking of here. No, when you get to my age, birthdays are no longer an opportunity to do inverted tequila shots until you lose both accountability and any sense of decency or self-respect. When you reach 45, as I did a few weeks back, birthdays are nothing more than a tasteful but still unpleasant intruder on your self-constructed fallacy that despite the passing years and balding compatriots you somehow remain youthful and carefree. And we all know that is nothing but pure unadulterated bullshit.
You see, at 45, I’m technically still in that gray area, and no, smart ass, I’m not talking about my hair color. I mean that I’m still just young enough to delude myself that I “feel young”, that I’m not an old fart- not quite yet. Oh I keep telling myself that alright, and then reality comes and smacks me upside the head. For example, when I recently went to a Ben Folds concert on a weekday. An earlier version of myself, say circa 1992 when I was still a college junior, would have shamed my current self into doing chugs before the show, but instead I clapped politely while sipping on a bottled water. Gosh, I’m such a loser now. And still I woke up the next morning tired as hell. Now that I’m old, I don’t go out to concerts on weeknights.
You know what else I don’t do now that I’m old? Clubbing. Yeah, that’s right. I haven’t been in an establishment with a door checker and a line outside the place just to get in since Bob Hope died. What, you didn’t know Bob Hope died? You didn’t even know who he was? Screw you, you young punk. And get the heck off my lawn.
And that’s not the only thing. Now that I’m old, my drug dealer isn’t some shady dude whose apartment smells of pachouli and cat urine; she’s a doctor with a prescription pad and a less discriminating sense of whom to give pain pills to. Oh I’m just kidding about that one! I don’t take anything a doctor gives me for pain relief. I live in Colorado for crying out loud.
But now that I’m older, I also don’t listen to Top 40 radio anymore. Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, Macklemore? Sorry, I just cant do it. It’s like drinking Bud Light now that you’re older and you know better and have taste. In fact, I’m not even sure Casey Kasem is still on the air anymore. I think he may have died a few years ago. Wait- you don’t know who he is either? You’re really beginning to get on my nerves, millennial cyberpunk!
And while you may laugh uncontrollably at this one, I also no longer fool myself into thinking I could someday break out in sports or music. Despite some preposterous Disney movie, I am not busting into the big leagues at 45. Even enough steroids and human growth hormone to make Barry Bonds’s head continue to grow until it pops like an overfilled balloon couldn’t get me into professional sports. And whoever heard of an aspiring young guitarist hitting the music scene at the age of 45? Even the rotting corpse once known as Keith Richards acknowledges that I’m past my prime in that regard.
Now that I’m old, 11pm seems ridiculously late. That used to be when I went out for the night. When I was in college, I routinely stayed up until three in the morning. Now the only way I see that time of day is if I stub my toe on my way to take a leak for what seems like the fifteenth time each evening. Seriously, what has happened to my bladder in recent years? I feel like my seven year old daughter and I are going in opposite directions when it comes to bladder capacity and urination frequency intervals. In fact, she might just have passed me by.
But you know what the coolest thing about getting old is? More and more as I get older, I just don’t give a flying crap anymore. I don’t care what people think about me. I don’t care if stuff gets done or not. I don’t care if I seem hip or not. While it may be embarrassing as hell for my kids, I just don’t care if I go out in public wearing my old school Nirvana shirt from 1992. I can now relate to my dad who used to relish the opportunity to humiliate me with some ridiculous thing he would say around my friends, knowing that I was just sitting there squeamishly terrified of what would fly out of his mouth next. That freedom truly is exhilarating.
In a funny way, life gives us this lesson slowly. As we age into being broken down shells of ourselves, we learn to laugh about it, to take ourselves less seriously. We finally come to realize that no one but ourselves really gives a damn anyways and thus we come to accept ourselves and others in a way that our more awkward, self-conscious younger selves never could have done. In fact, when I get even older I’m going to forget all about personal dignity and self-respect all together. As they wheel me into the old folks home, I am going to be a chain-smoking, womanizing meth addict with a handful of dirty jokes and a frisky tongue for telling them. And I wont regret a damn bit of it whatsoever.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every TUESDAY and FRIDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com