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0816blog

Death.

There I said it so you can either hear me out or click to the video of the dancing llamas.

I didn’t like admitting that I was getting older and I hate to admit now that I am actually old, not old like the universe but old compared to people I know and getting closer to the ultimate insult of death.

I really don’t like it when the young girl at Dunkin Donuts automatically gives me a senior discount and then I tell her I’m just 35 and she laughs and gives me the senior discount. Or when people call me sir, out of some misplaced respect that again reminds me that I am old. Spare me.

I reached the halfway point in my life when I hit 39.466 years, if you believe the current average, American life expectancy of 78.93 years. That means at 70 years old, I’ve been speeding or creeping to the end for 30.54 years, unless I either defy the average life expectancy one way or the other. In other words, I have about eight years left, if the average holds true and hopefully it won’t.

Maybe I should move to Hong Kong where the average life expectancy is the highest in the world at 85.29 years. However, I guess you don’t automatically live longer by moving to another place, like Hong Kong. You probably have to be born there. I would still carry my 78.93 years U.S. life expectancy with me.

Maintaining my U.S. life expectancy would be good news if I was magically transported to Swaziland where the average life expectancy is 49 years. I would have been dead for 21 years if I had been born in Swaziland, which I wasn’t, fortunately.

I was thinking the other day that I could have a child who could be 48 years old, the age my father was when he died. Ouch.

I can’t express myself as old or young but I can see the manifestations of getting older, like developing really ugly toes, hair falling out or becoming entirely grey and losing any possibility of shape or hairline just receding, getting up several times a night to pee, seeing my stomach drop no matter how many situps I do. I am grateful I don’t have a mirror to see me from behind because I really don’t want to see how age has affected my behind.

At least I don’t have as many lines on my face as Keith Richards or am I setting the bar too low when I compare myself with a rocker who abused every drug imaginable and now has a face that looks like a very badly cracked road. Low bars are important to maintain morale and illusion.

I know there are things I can’t do because I’m aging. It became crystal clear a few years ago when I joined in a pickup softball game and couldn’t get the ball out of the infield, even though I thought I hit the ball well. I used to be able to toss a football a fair distance, now I can throw it about 10 yards if I ignore the searing pain in my shoulder. So I remain a legend in my own mind.

I have to pick the right exercise equipment to offset failing physical abilities. I found that out a few years ago when I jogged for about two miles and could barely walk for about two days because my knees were killing me. So I have a stationary bike and it’s OK because there is no pounding on my old knees.

I am told my hearing isn’t as good as it used to be but I just think that people speak faster and softer than they used to while movies and TV shows have bad volume controls.

My vision is about as good or bad as it ever was. The contact lens prescription hasn’t changed for a few years. I remember my mother’s vision was failing as she got older but she refused to stop driving even though she said the center lines looked wavy. My center lines are not wavy, yet.

I won’t even get into prostate issues.
The mental manifestations of aging are harder to pin down. As I get older, I get more and more things in my head and when I can’t remember a name or a place or a word, I chalk it up to having a cluttered mind that is hard to pick through when I need to. And that’s why the thesaurus was invented.

But I feel my creativity is better than ever. And I remain curious about many things, like the derivation of the world boondoggle or the reasons for World War I or my family’s heritage.

I don’t use a cane or a walker with a little yellow tennis ball stuck on it and I don’t ask if my brother Sam was here, even though I never had a brother named Sam. And I don’t scream at the silverware, yet. So, all things considered, I’m doing pretty well.

I think aging is such a weird concept because we carry around the experiences of our whole lives. Sometimes I feel that if you could unzip me that all my different iterations in life would come tumbling out and it would be hard to decide which was current. Inside I am still the boy who had his appendix removed when he was 4 years old and nearly died just as much as I am the old guy who can’t throw a football.

I would like to live forever. Who knows?

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer