If you’ve read these last two columns then you know that I’m writing about what the aging process and how it affects us, I say us but really I mean me. I thought that my columns would all be about the heady psychological issues that are related to growing up and aging in the world but this week I’ve decided to write about something a little different—how are body betrays us as we start to get old.
When I was in high school I had the body of a Greek God, seriously Greek Goddesses were waiting in dark alleys to beat up my girlfriends and steal me away. I had a stomach you could wash multiple pieces of clothing on, a full head of hair,permed to look like the 80’s rock god’s I knew I would blossom to, a smile that wouldn’t quit, I weighed 100 pounds soaking wet. I turned myself on when I looked in the mirror!
Even in college when I traded the weight routines and sprints for Jack Daniels and Jim Beam I still looked good for the first few years. I still had Greek Goddesses fighting for my phone number. I figured I had it made. Somehow my body had the gene that allowed me to eat what I wanted, drink what I wanted, smoke what I wanted and still retain the outline of a rock god. Of course being young and stupid I didn’t see some of the warning signs. Remember how Jim Morrison turned out after the first few good years of drinking or Elvis after the glory years? I wasn’t thinking about them. I somehow missed the fact that my father had gone from running cross country to weighing three times his weight in high school. I wasn’t able to look far enough down the road to know that Vince Neil would, later in life, look, well look like he does now. Hell even Kerouac got fat.
I can remember when I even thought about my weight in college. One year, probably my third year in a guy I knew said “you look really good, you look like you’re filling out and aren’t as thin as you used to be.” I knew that I had put on a few pounds but didn’t think much of it. Now though, going from my buff 100 pound frame to 120 pounds and a little fat people were telling me I looked good. Awesome! I felt like Charlie Sheen when he realized he could binge for three days and still act when required. I shouldn’t have. You can guess what happened, I slowly started to gain more and more weight. I’m 38 now and I weigh more than I want to. No, I’m not going to tell you how much but if you knew me in high school and you see me now you can do the math.
It’s not just me though. When I look at the photos of my college friends you can see the changes. Not so much in the women, somehow you all have managed to stay as youthful and beautiful as ever. The men though, all of us have aged picture by picture. At first it’s subtle, a little wrinkle by the eye, a few grey strands of thinning hair, a little more weight around the middle until now—grey in the beard, fat everywhere, bald, extensive dental work, if I knew anyone more vain I’m sure they would have had botox by this point. My god we’re disgusting!
This is another secret they don’t tell you about getting old. Your body will betray you. You will get fat, lose your hair, your teeth, your perfect skin. The really sad part is there isn’t much you can do about it. Sure you can work out, get botox, use rogaine, jog, lift weights, it’s still a losing battle. In the end the guy you read about in the paper who dropped dead while jogging, that guy didn’t get what his body was trying to tell him!
As much as it may seem like I’m giving up I’m not. I thought about this column because I got extensive dental work done to repair some teeth mainly for vanity issues. I’ve given up drinking and smoking and feel like I’m exercising and making more healthy decisions about eating (feel like it if not actually doing it.) I’m out there fighting the good fight. I hope to be around for the next 40 years to be a pain in the ass to my son when I’m old and not lose the battle to cancer the way my old man did, I’m trying. I’ll be honest with you though, a big part of me wishes he could go back to being that kid Greek Goddesses fought over. I was a lot dumber but damn did I look good!