So I am turning 47 years old this year (2013). No big deal for me, really. I don’t mind it that much. I have nothing profound to share about getting older and staying in shape. Frankly, it annoys me when people post quotes like, “Age is merely a number!” and “You are as old as you feel!”. Although somewhat true they are mostly just stupid cliches that older people use to justify their sad, drunken nights of trying to party like a college kid. YOLO, dude.
What I WILL share with you are a couple of my earliest ponderings about growing old.
For some reason I can vividly remember the year of my childhood when my father was 44 years old. It’s probably because of the double digit thing. Anyway, every now and then my father and I would toss around the baseball in our front yard. Remember, he was 44 which made me 9 years old. Sometimes I would throw like a spaz and my dad would have to struggle to catch the ball. Occasionally my throw would end up soaring completely out of his reach and out of our yard and into the street. Surrounding our small yard was a split rail wooden fence. It couldn’t have been more than three feet high. Whenever my dad had to retrieve the ball he would to take the long way around the fence. Clearly it would have been much faster to hurdle the railing and get the ball instead of walking all the way around the fence to the opening. Why wouldn’t he just hop the fence? I thought about it and I just couldn’t picture my dad doing that. I wondered if this was my fate. I loved hopping that fence. At an early age I used to run at that thing top speed and clear the rails easily. Would my 44th year of life render me incapable of such an easy (and fun) physical act? At that moment my future frightened me.
A quick follow up to the above story had me at the softball field about a year ago warming up my teenage daughter at her team practice with a game of catch. She threw the ball too high and it went over the left field fence. It was a chain-linked fence about 5 feet high and to go around it would take too long. Defiantly avoiding my fate I ran at the fence and scaled up and over it as quickly and nimbly as possible. It may not have looked pretty but I was damn sure I wasn’t going out like my old man. I got the ball and noisily scampered back over the fence. Breathing heavily I tossed the ball back to my daughter. She looked at me, horrified. A few of her teammates also gave me odd looks. With a cocked eyebrow my daughter said, “Dad… that was weird.”
My second story goes back even earlier than my previous memory and it’s only just flashes of images. Sometimes during the summer my family would drive about an hour to a lake in the Poconos. My mom, dad, sister, and two brothers would spend the day swimming and cooking out. Great childhood memories. I was probably 4 or 5 and I wanted to go to the deep part of the lake. My dad held me and carried me out into the water. I remember resting my head against his chest and having his bushy gray hairs all in my face. That wasn’t really a big deal but, what was more memorable were his big, fat, pointy tits. My dad wasn’t a heavy guy mind you. But, he wasn’t in shape either. And those tits… Aye Carumba! My little brain was envisioning the horrors of becoming and old man and having a huge pair of my own pointy tits covered in bushy gray hair.
Now look, before anyone gets all bent out of shape because you are a pointy titted, non-fence jumper just calm down. You are not a pariah in my eyes. I simply thought that via genetics this was to be my fate. Well, it wasn’t. But, it very well could have been.
To quote a line from one of my favorite movies of all time, The Iron Giant: “You are who you choose to be.”