Old age is like everything else — to make a success of it you’ve got to start young. The real sadness of ‘old’ age isn’t that you change so much, it’s that you change so little… Hmm… It is said that a man is as old as he feels and a woman is as old as she looks. Well, this weekend I’m gonna find out…

I received a summons to North Carolina the other week. It’s for a reunion and state awards ceremony this coming weekend at UNC in Chapel Hill involving some folks I practically started out with in journalism. Back when we were young… and invigorated… and full of self-prophesy.

And it has caused me to be feeling my age – which is way past that tropism that 40 is the old age of youth… and 50 is the youth of old age. Because now that I’m steeped into my 60s I can only swear that I am going to live forever – or die trying.

Hmmm… pretty soon my age will probably catch up to my diminished IQ. Or, as a friend was ribbing me with yesterday: ‘Those enlargement pills must be working. Because now you are twice the dick you were last week.’

In other words, lately I have been not only feeling old… but also crotchety. Especially because recently I was trying to do two counterintuitive things at once: think and walk. And tortuously reinjured my knee slipping down my steep wooden steps.

It’s an old ‘war’ wound from college intramural sports. And then it got more than a tad exacerbated from that bullet badly grazing my knee when I stumbled into a religious war years back in West Africa.

So life progresses. From wounds to scars to heart bypasses to my last ex-wife trying to poison me.

Really!

She insanely told the perplexed docs I tried to commit suicide. But of course! And then I made the docs laugh when I jokingly responded: I must be like that convicted felon who is given a choice, by the court, of which way to die – electric chair, gas chamber, hanging… or to be injected with the deadly AIDS virus. And he chooses the injection. And when the guard is taking him away asks why? That is, why would you choose the most heinous, egregious, painful way to die? And the felon smirks: I’m safe. I’ll be wearing a condom.

Hmm… old age really is like a shipwreck… don’t you think? Sinking… eroding… from a young gift of nature to an old work of art. Needless to say that in our youth we run into difficulties. In old age difficulties run into us. Particularly venal, vapid, vicious ex-wives.

But I’m sure I deserved it. And perhaps that’s one of my many problems – everything is a grand adventure that turns into a joke.

Yet through all that the real sadness of ‘older’ age is not that I’ve changed so much, it’s that I’ve changed so little. Like most of the rest of you.

Obviously.

And now I am limping painfully… with a cane. And my doctor told me the same thing he told me nearly 15 years ago: I need an operation. And I told him again: I ain’t getting transgendered. I actually said something about me being pusillanimous, which I thought was about the same thing.

Hmm… And no matter how youthful we dress and try to act, the fact remains that we all die in pieces. And another piece of me is apparently dying.

Obviously getting old ain’t for sissies! Especially if you’re already pusillanimous.

Even worse was that enticing woman I met the other night in that new beer brewery which recently opened just a few doors down from me in South Philadelphia. And the more beer we consumed the better we looked to one another.

She’s been tooting the clarinet for the Detroit Symphony the last 10 years. And comes to Philadelphia annually to get her woodwind overhauled. Philly, especially with its internationally acclaimed Curtis Music Institute, has long been a global workshop for this.

As she so informed me.

And in our continuing random conversation I also learned that her father, ‘a successful scientist but failed businessman’ had found a young, mail-order Russian bride. And decided that since he didn’t have much going for him here, relocated to Russia with his newlywed arm-candy and her 9-year-old son.

Hmm… Now why does that seem just grand to me?

Anyway, after 40 minutes of dis-and-dat I was about to suggest we continue conducting our symphony back at my place. But just as I stood up from my barstool my damn left knee decided to orchestrate some virtue… and collapsed. And down I went like a wounded duck, quacking and flapping on the cement floor.

And then this woman – I think her name was Shannon – in attempting to assist, ended up patronizing me – almost like I was her damn grandfather.

But of course! Her grandfather! And our ‘mood’ diminished and died like Viagra after 4 hours. So she paid her bar bill and, basically, fled.

And I slowly limped my way home.

And now I am about to limp down to North Carolina to drink, eat, make a wonderful ass of myself and gaze upon all those age-lines of regrets etched into the faces of former cohorts. Indeed, the closing years of life are like a masquerade party when the masks drop away. I just wonder if I’ll look as old to them as they will to me.

Probably not. Simply because I don’t have many regrets.

Hmm… I mean, life is just life… right? The party doesn’t end until the Russian vodka meets political correctness.

Oy!

I think my only real lament is that I still haven’t quite created a fully-satisfying surfeit of mischief. After all, you can only be young once, but you can immature forever.

So I’m planning to stop off in Richmond, Va., to see an old ex. She’s living with one of my best ex friends from high school whose own wife became an ex after she caught him with my ex. And then there’s another old ex in Chapel Hill, who’s married to my best ex-friend from Carolina. And they have been x-ing me outta their lives the last 35 years.

Hmm… If you’re counting all those X’s without the O’s you’ll understand why my game plan has always had so many illustrious pitfalls — it’s always been poorly designed and a tad offensive. Then again people do get offended so easily. So I ain’t apologizing. Because they obviously can’t take a joke. And a good joke’s gotta offend somebody… eh?

Hey, you’re never too old to be younger. That is if you’ve kept your sense of humor.

So, here I am, packing my bag and mandated dress suit and tie to trek down and confirm something I already know: That once you are over the hill… you pick up speed.

In a way I’m excited, I mean, even politicians, ugly buildings and whores get respectable if they get old enough. And like I already said: Old age is like everything else; to make a success of it you’ve got to start young.

And I did…

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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