"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."
"Can you believe you're going to be 29?" my wife asked the day before my most recent birthday, causing me to question her findings and, briefly, her name.
"No," I said grimly while pricing hyperbaric chambers. "Thanks for reminding me."
"Oh stop it. I think it's exciting."
"It says here the 'Performance' hyperbaric chamber is only $12,900 and is 'ultra easy installation.' I think I'll get one."
"Anyway, I like older guys," she said, obviously giving me the go-ahead to make the purchase.
I paused. I'm an older guy?
Looking back, there were warning signs, which I ignorantly chose to ignore. Like when I was 22 and walked over to the neighbor's house and uttered the phrase "Can you please keep it down? Some of us have to work tomorrow." I'm surprised I didn't add "Con-SARN kids!" at the end. But it was loud and a horrible song; not something hip and trendy like the Vanilla Ice I listened to when I was a kid. Clearly "music" these days is getting as bad as the taste kids have in it.
A big warning light came on when I started realizing that my current football idols are now my age or younger. Previously, these wrecking-ball-sized behemoths were always older, larger-than-life warriors capable of punching a hole clean through a bison. Now they're younger than me and performing feats I still am unable to do. I don't think this should be allowed. Oh, I'm sure it would eventually get sad watching brittle old men running around but it'd make me feel better.
Other warning signs I'm aging faster than a banana in a paper bag:
-I'm starting to identify with Danny Glover's character in any Lethal Weapon movie when he says "I'm getting too old for this (stuff)." These days, "this stuff" refers to things like mowing the lawn, blending a shake or getting out of bed in the morning. Why can't more people do things for me?
-I'm starting to willingly watch the news and shows like "American Pickers," "Sell this House," and "Holmes on Homes" shows Young Kelly would have slept through. I hate how I enjoy them. I'm trying to condition myself to not like them by poking myself in the eyes every time they start but to no avail.
-I wander around the house making observations like "You know, that coffee table has a sharp edge" to myself.
-When flipping through the latest issue of Sharper Image, trying to convince my wife we need one of everything for the 39th consecutive month, I happen upon a set of nose hair trimmers. Instead of laughing at them, I find myself thinking "Hmmmm." My nose hairs have ceased being dormant and now are enjoying an expedition southward in an attempt to cover that bald spot on my upper lip or escape into the night (scientists have yet to determine the root cause). The trimmer comes equipped with a vacuum and the video salesman says "No more sink or counter full of hair everywhere" which makes me wonder just what type of Sasquatch I'm turning into.
-My eyes continue to deteriorate, forcing me to address anyone more than two feet away as Mr. or Ms. Blob and I'm not even sure I have the gender correct. But that's what's great about getting older; you start to not even care.
-Previous to now, I've always utilized the ankle-on-opposite knee method of sitting. One leg is bent at a 90-degree angle and rests on the other. Lately I've found myself inching distressingly closer to the "crossed leg" position favored by ladies and Charlie Sheen.
-For whatever reason, I now own only one pair of shoes with laces. Are laces too complicated now? They probably are, what with the need to bend down and everything.
-My body now enjoys making sounds like someone practicing rifle shooting in an underground parking garage. Upon stretching, my sternum will pop and scare the cat awake, which is kind of funny.
-Despite attempts to keep fit, I mistakenly thought my annual physical test scores would be vastly improved. Because this is clearly a mistake, I've found that a meticulous application of a fine-point Sharpie can change this.
-The day after a simple game of kickball now causes your body to engage in premature rigor mortis.
-I now stare at elderly people who take that motorized chair up and down stairs with envy.
-I've begun selecting foods not based on their appearance or taste, but whether or not they'll get stuck to my teeth.
Despite my advanced age, I still somehow manage to come home with dirt or grass stains on my pants. As far as I'm concerned, that's a sign of youth (or clumsiness). I'm holding on to 29 as long as I can. When I hit 30, I'm sure I'll fall apart and lose an arm. If my wife wants an older man, she can hang out with Abe Vigoda.
This Classic Kelly column originally published June 27, 2010.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via cirque du solei. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or else.