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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 Bounced Checks

I’m not really fond of saying that I’m getting older. I prefer to think of it as getting old-ish. I mean, let’s be honest, you’re not really old until you’re getting that look from girls in the bar. You know, the “what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here?” look. That being said, the more old-ish I get, the greater the disconnect between my mind and my body. Sure, I’ve honed a few choice hand-eye skills to the point of mastery, but more and more my brain seems almost immovably wed to the idea of what my body was capable of doing ten years ago, despite copious amounts of evidence to the contrary. It’s not to say that I’m falling apart... okay, well maybe I’m falling apart a little bit. But it’s just that my brain seems to still know exactly what it wants my body to do, and unable to cope with the fact that my body often can’t or won't listen. And so with all due credit to Stinger, Maverick and Goose, here are 3 checks my ego is writing that my body can’t cash:
  1. Spicy, spicy. There is a moment in many restaurants where you have to make a decision. In Mexican restaurants it’s hot, medium or mild, in Asian restaurants it’s on a scale from 1 to 10 and in other restaurants it’s simply a pictograph of flames next to a menu item. And in this moment, my inner caveman blurts out “hot!”, “10!” or “Bring the FIRE!” Of course, there is also that still, soft voice which warns “you know, you’re really going to regret that...” and does so in no way loud enough for me to pay any attention to it. These decisions often come while the memory of a spicy-food-inspired gastro-intestinal incident so horrible and painful that it brought me to tears is still fresh in my memory. And yet, I can’t quite get my mouth to make the words: “mild”, “3” or “I’ll just have the Teriyaki.” My relationship with antacid is my longest-running and the most committed I’ve had in years. I’ve logged more tears and screaming in my bathroom than I have in my bedroom, and I’m pretty certain that the chef at my favorite Chinese take-out place is laughing about my morning-after fate when he hands me my Kung Pao chicken “extra spicy”. I’m not certain what it will take to finally and reliably divert me from such masochistic food decisions, but I suspect it will require some sort of bleeding and/or an ambulance ride.

  2. Dance, dance. There was a time in my life where I would and could go out dancing 4 to 5 nights a week, for 3 or 4 hours at a go, stopping only for the occasional drink, dancing myself sweaty, heading home after they closed the place, get a few hours of sleep and be up for the same routine the next night. That time has passed. Anymore, dancing on consecutive nights feels more like two-a-days practice than revelry. Waking up from the first night is a little slower than normal, and waking up from the second night feels like waking up from a bar fight. The only popping and locking happening at that point is in my knees when I head down the stairs to grab a breakfast of pop-tarts and pain killers. Of course, no matter how many times this happens to me, I still spend any number of weekends kicking my heels up on both Friday and Saturday nights - only to end up in a couch coma on Sunday, freebasing Icy Hot and weighing the pro and cons of amputation. My mind knows exactly how much fun I’m going to have bouncing around the dance floor, and conveniently omits the unintended workout that I’m getting. Because I’m pretty sure that confronted with the option of 3 hour cardio workout, my brain knows precisely how likely it is that I’d be signing up for that. But this knowledge notwithstanding, I suspect I’ll stop signing up for consecutive nights of dancing the first time I need professional medical assistance to get up from the second one.

  3. Jump, jump. I used to be a pretty good athlete. I used to have what the kids call “mad hops” (that’s a large vertical leap, baby boomers). I used to throw girls around like gym equipment. I still know how to do all of these things - which normally means that I should be coaching young people to do them. But since I’m fighting my thirties like they’re a threat to the ongoing to survival of the human race, I prefer to continue to try and perform these athletic feats. After a roughly ten year hiatus, I recently stepped foot on a volleyball court again - only to find that when I told my body to jump a few feet into the air, it responded (albeit with exactly the same motions) by elevating a scant few inches off of the hardwood. When attempting to reprise my professional cheerleading career, I attempted to throw a spry young lady into the air over my head and succeeded mostly in throwing her into the air around my waist. And finally, when engaging in a trampoline dodgeball game (yes, seriously) and intending to hurl an unavoidable missile of a throw at an opposing teenager, he caught it with no more difficultly than I had I thrown it underhand. In my defense, he looked as surprised as I did that it didn’t come any harder - apparently everything about my throwing (aside from the actual throwing) still looks pretty mean. The primary consequence of this wishful thinking outpacing my athletic performance is that I’m getting picked later and later into the team selection - so I suppose I’ll know it’s finally time to stop when I’m getting picked after the fat kid with the inhaler and the sweaty palms.
* * *
I’d have to say that, on balance, my mind is aging much more gracefully than the rest of me. My brain doesn’t have a bevy of inexplicable aches and pains, isn’t prone to any involuntary functions that I used to have full control of and isn’t sprouting grey hair in any unseemly spots. In fact, I fancy myself a little smarter than I was the year before, continuing a streak that I believe to be unbroken since, well, puberty. What’s more, I do sort of enjoy having a “young mind”. I still prefer air hockey and go karting to wine-tasting and book clubs; I would rather spend my nights sweating on a dance floor than sipping in an “Ultra Lounge”; and still think AC/DC bootlegs are better than digitally mastered opera. Sure, the downside is that my body continues to cash all these checks - on an ever-dwindling balance of youth. But I suspect there will always be something left in that account, and that the lives best lived are those where it ends up without a thing left in it.


Anonymous said...

Amen to the Air Hockey and Go Karting!! I run a wine bar and I completely agree with you.


vic your friendly neighborhood asian said...

you know what i got from this?

we're old.

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