I’m suddenly and undeniably 60 years old and I haven’t the foggiest how it happened. My only working theory is that I somehow missed 25 birthdays. I’m falling the fuck apart. I was getting the eye of the tiger back, like Katie Perry but without the tits, this past late summer into early fall. I was even doing some real meathead stuff like saying “Fuck you!” to a barbell right after a set. How cool is that? It’s the anti-cool, but still pretty cool. Then I sprained a ligament in my abdomen. Now I owe apologies to every Major League Baseball pitcher I’ve called a pussy over the years for not pitching through a strained abdomen. It hurts. Hurts all the way into my plums. If I had a crying face emoticon on this blog, it would be here instead of this shitty sentence. The Word Press Dashboard surely does have one but I’m too inept to find it. Crying face. Like your garden variety, mouth-breathing moron, I tried to “work through” the injury for months. Shockingly it never got better and sometimes it got worse. I kept waiting for that one day when I did a shitload of dead lifts or hanging leg raises and the abdomen ligament would just pop back into shape and say “Thanks, no rest and more work is exactly what I needed to recover!” Oddly that day did not come. Eventually I was forced to shut it down for a fortnight so I could finally heal this pig.
I went back to the gym feeling refreshed and 80% healthy, definitely plump, but determined to stop aggravating this annoying little bitch of a tummy ligament. I decided to ease into it with some light treadmill. I wanted to work in a few intervals just to keep it interesting. My calf felt tight but no big deal. I’m probably a bit rusty and we’ll just work through that minor annoyance. Then I tore a muscle in that calf three minutes later. Went down on the treadmill like I took fucking sniper fire. Major pussy show at Fitness Formula Club for the 6am crowd. Dropped a couple of “Mutherfucker!”‘s on the innocent and limped out of the gym utterly defeated. It was around this time that the snows started and months later, they’ve never stopped. I did what I could for exercise but with a still bum ab and a sprained calf I was limited. Then while shoveling the mountains of snow falling on Chicago this winter, I yanked my lower back. Am I dying? That was a rhetorical question because clearly I am. I clearly recall in my youth Grandpa complaining about his lower back pain and I always thought to myself “Oh my God you are 1,000 years old”. Now I’m there but 25 years younger. Not the head start I was looking for. More like a head shart. You know how you frequently slip on icy spots on the sidewalk in winter; your foot skids quickly in one direction or the other and you flail your hands out and balance yourself? You look like a flaming asshole but you don’t fall. Me too. The difference is now I pull a groin, hamstring or hip flexor every goddamn time. I’ve struggled to assign blame for this deterioration on something which I can change. All avenues lead to one destination: I’m fucking old. Ryan, a good friend of mine, summed it up best by telling me “I feel like I got sick one day, and I’ve been waiting to get better for two years, but I never do.” Sad face, crying face, repeat. When in the hell did this happen? I’ve tried veganism in an attempt to be healthier but to this day not one fucking animal has been gracious enough to approach me and say thank you, meanwhile recovery time from workouts has gone from a long ass time, to infinity. My shit is falling apart and I’m still decades from collecting any of the cool swag that typically comes with bodily degeneration, such as Social Security or AARP discounts. You know, all the booty that won’t exist by the time I’m old enough to start reaping it. Maybe the time has arrived to just pack it in and give up. Lay on the sofa, eat things that come in boxes or bags, drink light beer, watch sporting events that I don’t even care about, pick a political side and scream at the TV, get fat, take some medications that combat the fat that I did to myself, buy some sweats, go out to buffets, inject myself with insulin a couple of times each day, watch reruns of Andy Griffith, tell my wife to clear away the dinner plate from my stomach and replace it with the dessert bowl and please avoid walking in front of the fucking TV sweetie, and drive everywhere in a mini van not because I have any kids, but because it accommodates my dimensions. It doesn’t sound all bad. Actually it is all bad, but they make other drugs which make it seem, while not all good, mostly gray. Not up, not down, just there. I think that’s where I’m headed. I’ve tried raging against the dying of the light, perhaps now I’ll give going quietly into that good night a chance.
During the brief interlude when I was picking fights with inanimate iron bars and feeling relatively good about myself I befriended a guy 12 years my junior at the gym (no, not in the shower) who inspired me to buy a big assed kettlebell. Not just any kettlebell but one in which the bell portion is actually an orangutan head. Menacing looking fucker, just begging you to swing him all over God’s green earth. Have muscles start popping out of your ass and the two of you together can screech at innocent onlookers puzzled as to why you are swinging an iron orangutan head through dead air. But the orangutan, we’ll call him George, doesn’t swing through the air nor does he screech at shit. He resides in a closet collecting dust and making a bald spot on the carpet. Perhaps someday, if George is lucky, we’ll move him onto the front stoop to serve a gargoyle function. He’ll get sun and fresh air and while I sit next to him drinking soda with pork rind crumbs spilling down my ample gut, I’ll give George’s head a scratch from time to time. When youngsters pass by on a jog I’ll force ‘em to stop, start my stories with “You know I used to run……” Though I don’t recall any of the preceding 25 birthdays, I hope they were fun.