I spent my vacation worrying about getting old. It only takes a couple of trips to the local Jewish Community Center (JCC) to put that fear in a man.
Sure enough after three days of unwillingly viewing naked old men in the locker room, I was greeted with a good old case of anxiety-induced insomnia.
Most nights I spent reading the Guinness Book of World Records in search of a feat that I could overcome; but soon enough I garnered a prescription for what ailed me. Still, I tossed and turned all night.
I dreamed of big carrots shrinking into baby carrots, of leaves abruptly falling off trees and of canyons filling with white smoke. But what did it all mean? Was I hungry for Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast platter or did I fear my unit dwindling to oblivion, my hair falling out and ear hair growing in its place?
There was only one way to find out.
I went to Denny’s the next morning with a sense of purpose and determination.
I was determined to eat that whole Grand Slam breakfast if it was the last thing I did. Two juicy strips of bacon, two sausages, an omelet, an English muffin, hash browns, and a glass of milk later, I was still anxious.
It had to be that I feared aging. How would I be able to live without my Semitic good looks and the ability to jump without breaking my hip? Worse, how could I go on without the use of my wee-wee?
The next day, I went to the JCC and observed the old men. They’d stand around au natural talking about politics. Eventually someone would mention the 1960s Boston Celtics and they’d all argue about who got the most rebounds in a single game.
Soon a new old man would walk into the locker room and everyone would greet him with, “How’s your cancer doing?” Depressing stuff. He’d make some snide remark like, “It’s killin’ my ass, but hell, my ass don’t work no more anyway!” And they’d all cheer, then cough. They’d cough for a very long time.
Finally, I gathered the nerve to talk an old guy. This was much harder than asking a girl out because of all the weird social mores that go along with talking to a man when he’s naked (or peeing, for that matter).
“How … how is it being old?” I asked a random guy with a wrinkled face as he pulled his pants up from his ankles to his chest.
“Old? I wouldn’t know,” he said. “You think I’m the guy to ask?”
“I just wanted to know if, you know, it’s still fun being alive when you’re, y’know, elderly.”
The guy looked me in the eyes and exclaimed, “Kids! They didn’t used to be like this in my day.” And he plodded away.
Suddenly, I was enlightened. I realized that being old is great because you never have to explain yourself, you can be as stubborn as you want to be, and you can make up any story about the past that you want.