Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

On golden ski slope



By G.D. Maxwell

"Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough." (Groucho Marx)

"The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom." ( H. L. Mencken )

"Gettin’ old sucks!" (Me)

Okay, it’ll never make it into Bartlett’s, but in our heart of hearts, we know it’s true. Gettin’ old sucks. That it’s way better than the alternative is cold comfort because, let’s face it, the alternative is still a pretty abstract concept until it sneaks up, taps us on the shoulder and whispers in its chilly voice, "Time’s up, turkey."

It’s pointless to obsess about death. Death’s like your last final exam and like all the other exams in your life, giving it any thought until the last possible moment serves no useful purpose whatsoever; you’ll forget everything when the time comes and you’ll just spend needless hours tormenting yourself. The only people who obsess about death are those same keeners who never understood that deadlines were something to make, not something to beat. Serves ’em right.

The only time I can remember giving my own death any thought was the first time a part of me died, that is to say, the first time a part of me was murdered. The culprit was an endodontist – Latin for sadistic inflictor of unimaginable pain – and the victim was a lower molar.

At the moment of death, the moment she plunged her shiv into the nerve of the ailing tooth and killed it dead, there was, just like they say, a bright light at the end of a long tunnel and I could see my dear departed tooth swirling the bowl.

I went home, had a wake for my tooth, got rip-roarin’ drunk, realized my dead tooth couldn’t really enjoy the party, understood grievin’ is for the livin’ not for the dead, got philosophical, passed out and paid a big price the next day when I had to get on with life with a large number of brain cells having joined my molar in the Great Hereafter. Can I get an Amen?

But aging and death obviously aren’t the same thing. They’re more akin to foreplay and climax which, while being more or less joined at the hip, aren’t the same thing either. The main difference is that this is definitely one of those times even guys don’t want to rush through foreplay.

So far, the indignities of aging seem to be manageable. I can deal with the reading glasses; I can pretend the lighter hairs in my beard are actually, finally blond coming through; I can fool myself into thinking everyone who skis and jogs feels like their knees are about to give birth to aliens when they’re finished.