My body aches. Right now, as I write this, it aches. My fingers are stiff. My back is tense. It feels like I’m made out of twisted steel, but the bolts attaching my steely bones are turned too tight and seconds away from flying apart. I have aches with a capital ouch.
Sometimes when I get up and start walking, it sounds like Orville Redenbacher’s theme music. There are so many pops and cracks, you’d think I was a walking pile of rap music record albums. Run DMC beatboxes my morning march and I can’t help but think, God – when did I get so old?
Keep in mind, I’m fairly active. I do the exercise bike every day, which sounds like something an old person would say. It may be a fit activity, but saying that out loud sounds like I should follow it up with, “And then I watch my stories and drink a nice Sanka.” Besides, my bones still creak anyway. I often wonder what they would be like if I didn’t exercise. I imagine they’d turn to dust and I’d be a pile of skin crying for someone to carry me to the couch.
Age is subjective. Am I old compared to a great grandpa? No. I’m young. Still barely in my forties, I have a good deal of life ahead of me.
Am I old compared to Instagram models and Tik Tok stars? Very. Ancient.
I was reminded of this about a year ago when I took a tumble on my driveway. Slick from the rain, the ground beneath my feet betrayed me and sent my body flying through the air. I came crashing down on my arm and, for a brief moment, I was shocked.
It didn’t hurt though. I’m a tough guy. Honestly. I stood up and, shook my arm, and let out some sort of “Hrumph” sound. I got back in the car and, still somewhat stunned, asked my daughter if she had seen what happened.
She had her face buried in her phone and was doing insane dances in her seat. Tik Tok stardom doesn’t rest.
Even though I was alright overall, my arm felt swollen. Stuffed into a long-sleeved shirt, I could envision the bruise that must have been slowly forming as it was hidden away beneath the fabric. I shuddered at the thought of whatever damage I had done, but knew I had to take the plunge. I clenched my teeth and pulled it from the sleeve.
What stood before me was – in a word – horrific. My elbow had ballooned to five times its size. I don’t know whether it’s more appropriate to compare it to Popeye’s forearm or to say that someone had surgically inserted a softball in it. Pick your simile. Either way, it was round and gigantic. The visual was so terrifying that I won’t even use one of the ten pictures I took of it in this article. It was that bad.
Of course, my brain couldn’t process what I would eventually learn from the emergency walk-in doctor was a burst bursa sac. The violent fall that Grandpa James had taken in his own driveway had popped an internal bushel of nerves and sent his arm haywire. I was confused and, my reason for being confused, confused my wife.
I don’t get it. How did I hurt myself so badly? I can take a fall. We used to wrestle in the backyard all the time. I used to jump off the deck at my friend Joe’s house and that was like half the size of his house.
She responded with a sane dose of reality.
Yeah. That was twenty years ago.
Oh. Well, technically it was twenty-five years ago. But, yeah, same point.
I give much respect and love to my fellow creaky-boned middle-aged brothers and sisters. The irony of our plight is that this is the age when we need our strength the most. With two kids, I’m called upon to carry objects, fix mishaps, move furniture, and struggle with human beings 30 years my junior. There have been many days that a game of “attack” with my daughter or lifting my son into an oversized car leads me to silently beg the universe not to shatter my ribcage after a mistimed collision. I’m always one step away from traction.
Sure. I stretch. I exercise. I do yoga. I do it all. As the years tick by, though, I’m just doing it to stay ahead of the curve. Without all of that, who knows where I’d be? I’m like the 1977 Dodge Challenger you refuse to sell. All the maintenance in the world you do can make it look and run great…unless you decide to drive it every single day. Then, you’re just outracing Father Time.
I’m driving this bag of bones every day and the kids, stress, and responsibilities don’t help my blue book value. If I want to stay ahead of the inevitable, I need to take care of myself as best I can. If not, no one else will. It’s not their job. It’s mine. Until they invent one of those Jetsons machines that uses robot arms to exercise you, that’s all on me.
One day, my bones will turn to dust. My only hope is that I’m long gone by the time that happens. Either way, vacuum me up and send me on my way. I’ve done my part. Don’t applaud for me. Save your bone strength. You’re going to need it.