When did I get old?
Nine pm used to mean there were 4 more hours left to pack in every inch of an exciting life. Later on, 9 pm meant another 2 more hours in the day. Now 9 pm means I’m late for my medication and need to get to bed as soon as I can. What the hell happened?
When the kids were going through puberty – when they started, that is, since they’re not all completely finished with the process – we got them a book called something like “Hey, What’s Going On Down There? A Teenager’s Guide to Your Changing Body.”
We need to update this book.
Now that I’m staring down the barrel of 50, I think we need a book of our own: Same concept, same title, but a drop-head like “A 50-Something’s Guide to What the Hell Just Happened to Your Body.” It would include chapters like “Is it Supposed to Look Like That?”, “Never Trust a Fart,” and “Three Ways to Tell if You’re Actually Urinating RIGHT NOW!” (Hey, it’s not like we can see it anymore.) There could be a handy guide in the back for dealing with insurance companies.
My parents gave me The Talk when I hit puberty, but I feel like they fell down on the job with the “Next Talk,” which parents should have with their kids when you hit about 45 or so. Not their fault – as a society, we don’t talk about this kind of thing. I guess women talk to each other a bit about menopause, but trust me that guys Never Talk About Anything. No 50-something dude has ever swiveled his chair around, leaned over to the cubicle next to him, and asked a co-worker, “Hey, Tom, is yours getting smaller?” We don’t talk about it.
(Imagine if he did, though: “Does it still work? As long as it works, size is NOT the biggest issue.”)
So, I’m getting old. I’m so old that I remember when loose coupling described a dating technique and then, later, a programming technique. (Although honestly, for most of us geeks, it described a programming technique and a dating concept with which we would have liked to become familiar.)
As I reflect on my birthday today, I realize that these days, loose coupling describes the relationships between most of my bodily functions.
We need to be talking to our kids as they hit their late 40s and early 50s, and try to prepare them for these changes. Imagine Carrie’s 30th High School reunion, wondering why we’re all suddenly incontinent? “Son, your shit’s gonna start falling apart, and that’s OK.” I’ve had shit stop working that I didn’t even know I had in the first place. Plus I’m still in denial about my glasses. Luckily, I don’t really need them, except to read and to see things at a distance. Other than that, I’m fine.
But it’s not all bad. As I rack up birthdays, I realize that I still don’t have even half as many as The Queen Mother of Pink, who’s 99. With any luck, I’ll have years to complain about my shit slowly falling apart. Gram doesn’t complain, though – she just powers through. Ninty-nine years old and still, she persists. Pretty good role model, if you ask me.
The Three Lunatic Children are getting funnier, too, and faster on the draw, so that’s another advantage to getting old: watching them grow into their own. Sometimes they go out of their way to sound like me, which is most certainly going to get them into trouble one of these days. I mean, look how I wound up? The oldest one got me a few nights ago:
HTR: I was thinking about déjà vu.
BUMD: I‘ve thought about that before.
HTR (without missing a beat): I knew you were gonna say that.
Birthdays – they’re like the ultimate déjà vu, until they’re not. But since it’s my birthday, I want to tell you about St. Patrick, who is the reason my middle name is Patrick. (Actually, that’s not true: My godfather, Mike Burke, is the reason my middle name is Patrick. I understand the conversation went something like: “If he’s born on St. Patrick’s Day, you HAVE to name him Patrick!” “No.” “Middle name?” “OK.” I owe him a debt I can never repay.)
St. Patrick died around 493 – pretty good gig to be remembered for more than 1500 years, to say nothing of having libations drunk in your name every year. I’m not much given to prayer, but since I seem to have a patron saint of my own, I’ve been thinking about asking him about that whole deal with the snakes. I’m thinking we could use a good old-fashioned snake drive these days.
So I’m not as old as St. Patrick, nor even half as old as the Queen Mother of Pink, but with the luck of the Irish, I’ll get there! Perhaps in a thousand years, they’ll be drinking libations in my name as well. It could happen! In the meantime, I’ll have one of whatever that man on the floor’s having.
And so, happy birthday to me, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, Dear Friend, Fond Relation, and Gentle Reader! Beannachtam na Femle Padraig, and let’s get all these snakes out of here!
Oh, look at the time! I didn’t realize it was that late – I need to get to bed.