Monday, March 21, 2005

This old spouse

As I make the transition from being young and stupid to being a little bit older and still pretty stupid, I’m noticing that people my age are constantly making comments about being old. I hear this all the time: “We stayed in on Saturday night. We’re so old now.”

Staying in on a Saturday night does not make you old. Passing Beano around the table after dinner does. If you are careful not to treat your digestive activities as a matter of public discourse, you can actually slow the aging process. If you never even mention digestion, you will age like a love child of Dick Clark and Bilbo Baggins.

And what’s so bad about getting old, anyway? I’m pretty proud of the fact that I haven’t gotten myself naturally selected yet. Sure, I’m still young, but nature’s swung and missed a few times already. So anytime you feel like complaining about your age, you just remember -- this isn’t gym class. Getting picked last is a good thing.

Last weekend, I accompanied my wife Kara to New York City so that she could ditch me and hang out with her girlfriends for a bachelorette party. Our separation for the evening was a mutually agreed-upon arrangement, as husbands aren’t exactly welcome at a bachelorette party, and I would probably feel more at-ease attending the Donner Party dipped in steak sauce anyway.

A buddy of mine met up with me in the city, and while we were standing in line outside of a comedy club, an old man came outside to smoke a cigarette, which is a very effective way of getting nature’s attention.

As he lit up, he coughed a bit. “Getting old is hell,” he said to me.

If I had any ability to think on my feet, I would have given the only appropriate reply, which is: “but it sure beats the alternative.”

But I don’t know how to think on my feet. I know how to bludgeon small talk. So I said, “Yeah, I’m finding that out for myself.”

That’s how much hearing twenty-somethings complaining about being old has messed up my mind -- I’ll complain about my age to somebody three times older than me. I’m sure the eighty-year-old man appreciated all the trials and tribulations I’ve had to go through to get to the grizzled old age of twenty-seven. I bet when he’s having his colonoscopy tomorrow, he’ll be thinking of me, and hoping that I’m adjusting well to having a bald spot.

It’s easy to talk about appreciating old age when I haven’t yet had to endure any of its indignities, except that now I can give myself a hangover just by sniffing Nyquil. I’m not expecting old age to always be a blast; I just think it’s pretty out-of-whack when people dread their birthdays. Old people have a proven record of managing not to get themselves killed, and I think that’s something to be proud of.

And when I finally do get to be old, I don’t want to be wasting my time trying to look like I do now. I already look like I do now, and it’s not anything to get too excited about.

So I might as well look forward to getting old. Why not? Life is a process of constant learning, and that’s a cool thing. It also means that every time you see me, I’m as dumb as I’ll ever be. What exactly that means, I have no idea. I’ll be smarter when I’m older, so check back then.

10 comments:

  1. At some point right around 27 you become invisible to teenagers. A curse or a blessing? Discuss.

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  2. Ok, so age...yeah, that's a bit touchy here, what with a round-numbered birthday coming up in exactly one month. Is it too early to start lying about my age? I know the only thing I hate about it is the number. I can deal fine with the rest of it.

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  3. All of you stalking Mike Todd, I work with this guy. I've got dirt.

    Mark, I have Choppy. No cops.

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  4. OK dude, this is wayyyy scary. How the hell did you know that Monday was my 36th birthday????

    Many people see attitudes to getting older as a glass half full/half empty dilemma.

    Personally, I'd rather just drink what's in the glass so long as I know it won't kill me.

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  5. JL -- don't sweat it. You're in Ireland, so you won't be 36 over here for like a couple more weeks or something.

    Mikka -- congrats on not getting naturally selected yet. Feel free to lie about whatever you want, especially on this page. That's what it's here for.

    And OKSTATE -- Judging from the time of your post, you've held my ferret hostage for almost 11 hours, which means he's probably taken about 45 dumps on your carpet. Serves you right.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting, y'all. Good to hear from you.

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  6. Natural Selection3/22/2005 11:40 AM

    See you next Thursday, Mike.

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  7. JL, my birthday is Thursday! What are the odds?? I figure about 1 in 5329.

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  8. Why the hell are people afraid to grow old. I'm looking forward to it. At 35, people see my unique behavior as....I don't know....obsessive, compulsive, slightly schizo, hyperactive...and just plain weird. Age gives me the right to be just "excentric".

    I loved this post. Several of your analogies made me laugh...Bilbo Baggins and that whole covered in steak sauce thing. That's freak'n funny. You write very descriptively. It's what's missing on most blogs. Well done!!!!

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  9. Natural selection, thanks for stopping by and creeping me out.

    Everyone else, happy birthday. I might forget later, so that's good for the whole year.

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  10. Thanks Mike! Very good points, and don't forget the joys of being the Dirty Old Man, or Grumpy Old Man (they even got their own movie!). Sweet Old Man just sounds kind of boring to me, but I guess it worked for the Pope.

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