By Sam Grubb
Well, I guess it happens to all of us. It creeps up when we’re not looking and when we realize what’s happening, it’s too late. Generally speaking, getting old isn’t all that bad. It comes on so gradually that we become accustomed to the hair that slowly turns white, the belly that becomes rounder, the heavy breathing at the top of the stairs, the aches and pains that gradually appear so that we can learn to ignore them. Anyone who is over 50 can add to this list ad nauseam. Under the harsh light of reality we can see the symptoms, but most of us, me too, ignore and deny all the signs. We still see ourselves as middle aged at the worst, and even younger after a gin and tonic. We harbor these illusions that we can still play football and baseball and all kinds of active sports, if we really wanted to that is. Many of us still harbor the illusion that we are attractive to the opposite sex. Incidentally, this causes some highly amusing and often pathetic scenes, especially in cocktail lounges, where the illusion is reinforced by liquid courage. Denial is the key to enjoying old age. As long as we can cherish and believe what the mirror and our driver’s license pictures are trying to tell us is a freaky distortion, we’re just fine.
It all started yesterday quite innocently. It was the hottest day of the year, so far. So in the afternoon I went to the swimming pool to cool off and relax. After a nice swim, and doing several laps just to prove what good shape I’m in, I climbed out of the pool and let the breeze cool and dry me. It was just perfect! Then I happened to look at my chest. Talk about being shocked! It was just like being bonked on the head in an old Abbot and Costello movie. The hair on my boobs, which have grown almost to the point of needing a bra, had turned white! It must have just happened overnight. Completely WHITE! There was also a 2” square section of white hair next to my belly button, while all the hair surrounding it remained brown. The white hair stuck out like a lighthouse beacon. It was a horrible aha moment.
My denial system folded like a cheap tent. I saw the soft belly, all the white hair, the spindly arms and legs, and more facial wrinkles than an old hound dog. I started remembering all the times recently when I would walk into a room, and forget why I was there. Then there is the issue of people’s names. So far, I haven’t forgotten my wife’s name, beyond that it’s a crap shoot. All of the jokes about old people just came true.
I guess that the good news, if there is any, is that knowing I’m old will help me accept things as they are. It’s ok to order from the senior menu, because that is enough food to fill you up. It’s ok to accept all those senior discounts, and even read the AARP letters that come in the mail. It’s ok to realize that you really do need a siesta in the afternoon, and going to bed at 9PM is also normal for old people. It is comforting to know that I’m not young and struggling to make a living, but retired and enjoying life. It ain’t much but it’s all I have to cling to.