Jousting with Middle Age
David Writes

What is middle aged? I suppose we are implying the middle of our lifespan. So let's say eighty years. That makes forty, give or take a few years, middle aged.

Ninety is certainly a possibility, so, forty-five. Some of us might even live to be 100, so I can even go as high as fifty.

After that it gets a little curious. Fifty-five? Well, people have lived to 110, so let's call the late fifties the absolute top side of middle age.

If someone sixty-plus is going around claiming to be middle aged, basically they are declaring that they intend to live to be the oldest human ever in the history of the world. I'm not buying it.

The fact is that only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older, so we've got to draw the line somewhere.

Personally, I have absolutely no desire to live past 100. No thanks, that's just more time than I need. But wait -- I could get Willard Scott to announce my birthday on the Today Show. Of course ol' Willie would be 257 by then, so... it might be worth it just to see that.

Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way. Maybe middle age isn't so much about chronology, but more about functionality. Like the way a car's age is more about mileage than model year.

One thing's for sure, I rolled my odometer over a long time ago. My vision started going at twenty-nine and shows no signs of magically returning to the eagle-eyed sharpness of my youth. A dozen new lenses later, I'm about half blind now, so... middle age.

I'm certainly at least half deaf. The predictable outcome from decades of playing in some pretty loud bands. I have several drummers to personally thank. Nothing like a few good cymbal crashes right at ear level to take the edge off of that pesky ability to hear. What did you say?

I am also ridiculously forgetful, but I always have been. So either I was senile at eighteen or it's just the way I am. I'm not talking about not being able to find my keys -- I literally drive along the freeway, miles past my exit, and come to my senses wondering What in the world am I doing here?

I have shown up at concerts without my guitar, not just once or twice, many times. I pick up cell phones and listen for a dial tone... every time. I pay for gas but don't remember to put it in the tank. Do me a favor, next time a car goes by with a coffee cup, laptop, book or a bag of groceries on the roof, give me a little wave.

I'm going to make the smoothest transition into dementia ever, I won't even notice it. It's all a matter of getting the supply of brain cells down to a manageable number.

So I guess the middle means half of the expected life of our bodily functions. The warranty must be running out on a bunch of my parts. When they're halfway worn out, then that must be middle age. Because when they're all the way spent, well... bucket, meet foot.

Still, I can't decide if I feel old or young. Maybe THAT's what middle age is all about. There are times I think, I don't feel much different than I did thirty years ago. Other times I think I might keel over any minute. Depends on the day -- or even more so -- the time of day.

Mornings? I'm not exactly springing up like Jack from his box these days. Snap, Crackle, Pop -- I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies getting out of bed. But I figure if I wake up looking no worse than my driver's license picture I'm off to a pretty good start. No worries, it's nothing a gallon or two of strong coffee can't bring around.

Afternoons? They're usually OK, as long as the weather isn't doing something squirrelly. Several of those cereal-sounding joints can put the National Weather Service to shame. I wonder why they don't just call me for the forecast, because I am regularly kicking their butts in the accuracy department. Of course they'd have to catch me before I get into some of Granny Clampett's rheumatiz medicine.

Speaking of hooch, evenings can be pretty groovy after a couple cold fellahs. Of course timing is important, because it's pretty easy for happy hour to turn into nap time. Then I'd have to go back to square one and the driver's license photo test and, well, might as well just stay in bed. It's terribly grueling.

Bottom line? It's getting to the point where it's hard for me to claim to be middle aged anymore. I don't buy this fifty-is-the-new forty horse hockey -- the old dirt nap is the new big sleep.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I've got one foot in the grave, that would certainly not be middle aged. I guess that would be old age. That's a whole 'nother discussion, and I'm not ready for that.

I haven't even made it to the point where I can start bragging about my age yet.


YOUR TURN: You've heard what I have to say. What do you think? Are you celebrating any of these same issues?

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