Have you seen those commercials, I think it’s some kind of financial planning or insurance company’s spot, where the guy is on an airplane and sees a much older version of himself from a number of years in the future? I had of one those moments last week, too, when I was in Irvine, California.
Unfortunately, I was in a hotel room and it was the result of catching a look at myself in the mirror. Damn it.
Admittedly, I’ve had these moments before. I don’t spend much time looking in the mirror, never have really. I mean, I look at myself first thing in the morning when I’m getting ready for work but all I’m trying to do then is make sure I don’t cut my throat shaving and that I’ve remembered to comb my hair. Since I’m focusing on something in particular, I don’t really see me. The result is that I may go for long periods of time without seeing me as others do. So when I suddenly see me, I’m occasionally surprised by what I see.
It was especially disturbing last week.
I had just come back from a workout in the hotel gym. Hotels are providing nicer and nicer workout facilities these days and Marriott consistently has equipment that I like to use. Since this was an older property, the gym was kind of small and right next to the indoor pool area, appearing to be built as an afterthought. As a result, it was crowded and very hot. I didn’t lift any weights, not wanting to wait, but I did get a good forty five minute cardio workout on an elliptical machine. I was pushing hard the entire time and it really felt great. After almost a year of regular exercise, I’ve gotten to the point where I really enjoy doing it.
Those who’ve known me for a long time, please stop laughing. And get up off the floor!
By the time I got back to my room, my breathing was back to normal although I was completely soaked from the exertion. I sat down to cool off for a few minutes, called My Bride, and had a piece of fruit to hold me over until I got down for breakfast.
It felt as if the sweating had stopped so I could hit the shower. As I walked into the bath room, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and did a little double take.
“Hey, who is that old guy in my room?” I thought for a second before the next thought hit me. “Hey, when did I become such an old looking guy?!!” And that one stopped me.
I got closer to the mirror and looked me in the eyes. Bags under both of them. Kind of bloodshot, too. There were a bunch of lines that I’d never noticed before and my brain immediately went to a line from a Jimmy Buffett song. “Wrinkles only go where the smiles have been.” Yeah, let’s go with that. I pushed back from my close up with the mirror and looked the rest of me over.
With all the weight I’ve lost, the work in the gym, and the bike rides I’m in the best shape of my life. Body fat is below 15% and I’ve got muscles in my arms and shoulders that I’ve never had at any point in my life. Sure, I’ve got arthritis in my wrists and one knee that was surgically repaired about three years ago that the doctor tells me will need to be replaced in the not so distant future. But when none of those hurt, which probably happens about two days out of seven, I feel about thirty which is twenty five years younger than I actually am.
And that’s what caused the double take. I felt good, felt young again, and my brain was expecting the thirty year old me. When the fifty five year old me appeared, it was quite a shock to the system.
I got in the shower and re-thought my thoughts of the last few minutes. I’ve been thinking of myself as middle-aged for a few years now; at least since I turned fifty. I don’t know what comes after middle aged, though. That’s kind of freaking me out.
My best friend has been busting my balls about being middle aged, wanting to know if I plan to live to a hundred and ten or something. (My response has usually been that I plan to be shot by a jealous husband at 103. MB probably would prefer to do it herself, though.)
If you think about it, you go from childhood to adolescence to adulthood to parenthood (not always but frequently) to middle-aged. What comes next?
Is it elderly? I don’t feel elderly. I mean, that sounds really old like in your seventies or eighties. If I feel this good when I’m that old, I’ll gladly take elderly but I’m not there yet.
Is it just old? That seems kind of plain to me, not reflective of all the work I’ve put in to get here and not nearly as enjoyable as it really is. I truly feel better and enjoy my life about as much as I did when I was eight years old!
What do you think, readers? Comment with your thoughts on the correct terms for what comes after middle aged and what ages they match up with. I’ll make sure they’re up for everyone to read.
In the meantime, I’m going with Geezerhood.