How old would I be if I acted my age?
A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch.”I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look,” she said. “What’s your secret for a long happy life?””I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day,” he said. “I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat pizza, cheeseburgers and fried foods every day, and never exercise.””That’s amazing,” the woman said. “How old are you?'”Twenty-six,” he said.Yep, another one just passed me by. And if this is how it feels being 26, well, I want no part of it.OK, truth be told, I’m a little older than 26 this year. I’ve actually reached that awkward age, too old to get away with lying about it and not quite old enough to start bragging about it. To simplify matters, I’ve taken to answering the “Good God man, how old are you now” question with a question.Whatever answer I get to the “How old do you think I am?” response is the age I go with. That way everyone wins, and the annoying young girl asking such rude questions goes away thinking how smart she is rather than how ancient I really am. Unless of course, she guesses I’m like 40 or something. Then she gets slapped like an extra in a 50 Cent video.Hey, I said I was older this year, not more mature.But I was pondering this whole aging thing over a bowl of Mueslix the other morning. It was still a few hours to sunrise and I couldn’t find anything on the Weather Channel, History Channel or Spike TV, so I got to thinking: How old would I be if I didn’t really know how old I am?The reality that I grew up on Pac Man and actually saw “Purple Rain” in the theater rendered the query absurd, of course, but I figure I could master Playstation2 given enough Red Bull and a genuine desire. And therein lies the catch.You see, the older I get, the fewer things seem worth waiting for. That doesn’t necessarily apply to women, but it counts double for bad movies and lift lines on the front side of Vail Mountain. And since my back goes out more than I do anymore, maybe it does apply to women after all.Another sign of old age is that I’ve pretty much quit trying to suck my belly in, no matter who walks in the room.The upside is that I no longer worry about avoiding temptation. As I grow older, it avoids me. But on the rare occasion I find myself dating someone half my age, I’m not breaking any laws.It can get a little embarrassing when friends call at 9 p.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?” Or when we host a “raging” party and the neighbors downstairs don’t even realize it. Then there are those audible little groans emanating from somewhere within whenever I bend over to pick something up. I figure it’s my body’s way of masking the creaks and cracks in my bones.What I don’t understand is why I continue to wake up with that morning-after feeling even when I didn’t do anything the night before. Or how loud music went from being cool at parties and bars to being the only way I can hear it anymore. Makes me wonder if an ear shave might be in order.These days it takes longer to rest than it does to get tired. It still seems odd to be cautioned by my doctor to slow down instead of by the police. But what’s really freaking me out is the uncontrollable urge to buy a metal detector every time someone suggests a beach vacation.Of course, aging does have its benefits. Like fashion, for instance. Apparently white shoes and a matching belt never go out of style. And after a certain age, black socks go with everything, even your shorts. A whole world of Bogner designer ski wear is opened up to you, which is key in Vail when you consider the statistic that at age 70 there are five women to every man. Finally, the playing field is leveled.But I digress. The question is, how old would I be if I didn’t really know how old I am? And the best answer I can come up with is, it doesn’t really matter. To my way of thinking, none of us gets to decide how long we live anyway, so, in a relative sense, I’m like 75 if I’m going to kick it in my 40s and just a wee lad if I last to 100. Either that, or I’m just too old to give a rat’s ass.Which reminds me of a funny story.I woke up feeling kind of spry on my birthday, so when I stopped to pick up the paper at the Shop-n-Hop, I thought I’d test my luck with the clerk.”It’s my birthday. How old do you think I am?””About 33,” she said.”I’m actually 38,” I said, feeling pretty good.After that, I went over to the Post Office and asked the gal behind the counter the same question.”Oh, you look about 29″.”Thanks, but really, I’m 38.”A little later at the bus stop, I asked an old woman the same question.She says, “I am 85 years old, and my eyesight is going. But when I was young, there was a sure way of telling a man’s age. If you let me grab your buns and give ’em a good squeeze, I’ll be able to tell you your exact age.”Since no one else was around, I figured what the hell.She gave my tush a thorough going over and after a couple minutes looks me in the eye and says, “Okay, it’s done. You are 38.”I was stunned.”That was brilliant,” I said. “How did you do that?”The old lady replies, “I was behind you at the Post Office.”Scott Willoughby can be reached for belated birthday wishes at email@example.com
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