Thursday, January 22, 2015

ON AGING … Up Close and Personal

Courtesy CC-3
Although I have no idea why, people keep sending articles about aging as if that were something of interest to me. Some of the items are jokes, usually of the laugh to keep from crying type. Others are pieces about gruesome things that happen to body and mind as the years grind by. Still others are pointed questions about such things as stopping in the middle of the room and wondering which direction you had been headed.

So I decided to take stock of my own lengthening lifespan and examine how I am handling the process. This requires a few confessions. Please, do not try to take advantage of them.

I once stood 5 feet 10 inches tall. Over time, the medical profession altered their measuring devices in order to claim I had shrunk to 5 feet 9½ inches. They’re probably going to tell me I don’t even reach that majestic altitude today.

·       Solution: Measure straight up to my neck, make a mathematical allowance for my slumped shoulders, and then angle 22 degrees leeward for the remainder of the measurement. I suspect you’ll find the missing half-inch, which would mean that while I no longer stand as tall, in actual length, all of me might still be there.

A long, sure stride used to carry me wherever I wanted to go, relatively efficiently. Now I often veer either port or starboard. I’ve noticed that if I walk (or drive) looking to the left, I tend to go left. If I look to the right, I wander right. If I look straight ahead … Well, the principle no longer holds true.

·       Solution: Walk any damned way I want and let the other guy stay out of my way. I grew up with people who learned to dance in middle school and have continued to dance to this day. While I never mastered the art, now when I walk from the parking lot to the supermarket, I entrechat with a pas de cheval and do an occasional pirouette when I return to the car for my list or wallet or whatever the hell else I forgot. For the uninitiated, that means I weave my way to the store with a horse’s step, taking occasional spins.

Once upon a time, I exercised. Really, I did. Honestly. During that long-ago year when I lost 102 pounds (“lbs” sound easy; "pounds" infer stress and sweat and dedication), I walked over hill and dale and treadmill five times a week – rain, shine, or snowdrift. I maintained my new weight for years until I walked straight off of the end of the sidewalk without bothering to take the two steps required to connect with the pavement below. After my resulting operation, my back cramps up, my hip hurts, and my ingrown toenails bother me so much I can no longer walk often or far.

·       Solution: I don’t walk. I sit and contemplate my growing waistline. (I can no longer see my navel, so that classic solution is not available.)

My fingers do not obey instructions from my brain. Back in the day, I was a terrific typist. I could do upwards of 60 words per minute with few errors. Today? Well, let me just say I sent a group email earlier this week to my writing class. All I wanted to do was remind attendees there would be no meeting on that particular Monday because it was a holiday.

The effort was a fiasco. First, I sent it from the wrong email address using an old, outdated class roster. Instantly, I started getting “failure to deliver” notices. If you haven’t seen such a notice lately, they’ve spruced it up. It is now readable and tells you in straight English Joe Blow didn’t get the email you were trying to send. Second, despite carefully checking the calendar, I screwed up the date of the next meeting, trying to make Monday the 26th into Monday the 29th. Wednesday protested to Monday, so I had to send a correction. Third, because I used the wrong address to initiate the email, the message purported to come from someone other than me – one of my writing pseudonyms, actually.

Thank you, Angus, for alerting me to the wrong date, and you, Marsha, for letting me know I was actually someone else at the moment. Your help is greatly appreciated, and rest assured I’ll find a way to return the favor while critiquing one of your readings. By the way, I appreciate the offer of sake, Yoko.

·       Solution: The next time I have an urge to send an email to the class … I’ll have someone else do it and imbibe a glass of sake, instead.

I could go on and on … and on, but I’ll end this with the one totally unexpected thing I’ve encountered in the aging process. I never dreamed that my nether regions would become even more nether at the same time my arms were getting shorter.

·       Solution: I don’t have one.

Keep on reading, guys.


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