Though I didn’t believe it at the time (behold the effects of a childhood spent feeling a lower form of life), I used to be rather a dreamboat. I have photographs to prove it! That I am nobody’s dreamboat anymore, and haven’t been for ages, has been especially painful lately. It isn’t as though I only recently realized that I’m highly unlikely to get better-looking as I become more ancient, but that the mirror seems to be pulling far fewer punches. Virtually every time I look in it I notice how two or more of the deep creases in which my once-lovely punim now abounds have crossed each other. My cheeks are beginning to cave in. Last month, I discovered that one of my eyebrows, which have come to resemble those of a British politician, contained a white hair fully two inches long.
All of which is deeply troubling, but now I’ve begun noticing the degradation of my body too. I’ve been exercising hard for around 38 years now, and have taken pride — especially since noticing that I was getting a belly and immediately losing around 15 pounds two years ago — in not being thick around the middle in the customary middleaged male way. But this past week I’ve noticed that I do indeed have a little belly, my two 600-calorie days per week be damned, and that my chest is beginning to sag. About which I don’t think I can do jack shit, as it was my attempting bench presses a couple of years ago that brought on my shoulder problems. (I had my right shoulder replaced in 1995, and now must have it re-replaced.) Exercise that would firm up my pectorals are out of the question. I can’t even do curls with barbells. Life is intent on making me look an old man regardless of how hard I’ve always tried to keep looking a young one.
Oh, what the hell, I promised forthrightness and it's time to put up or shut up. Seventeen months ago, I had my first old man's misadventure. It was a Saturday morning. I’d had a cup of tea and a bagel and gone to the Target on Santa Monica and La Brea to price sponge mops. On the way back (it’s about a 30-minute walk in each direction), my bladder sent me a text message: You’re going to want to think about voiding me soon, buster. I thought I had all the time in the world, and made ii back to the apartment complex in which I reside, albeit with my bladder now shouting, “Do something!” The elevator, not hearing it, took its own sweet time. Somewhere around the 7th floor (I live on the 10th), it said, “Fuck with me, will you?” and decided to teach me a lesson. A thoroughly horrible experience that I acknowledge would have been infinitely worse if I hadn’t been alone in the elevator.
Since which I’ve joined the ranks of those who plan their activities at least in part on the basis of the proximity of lavatories. Next stop: joining the ranks of adult diaper wearers. Whoopee!
I’m very careful to pee before going out on one of my traipses lately, but my bladder and I still haven’t repaired our friendship. Maybe once a month I have to duck behind something right out in public, risking humiliation or even arrest. I tell myself that if I were a dog, no one would raise an eyebrow, with or without a two-inch white hair. I am no dog, though, but a man. A potbellied old man who pees behind bushes, too proud for adult diapers.