I’m 61 years old. You can’t fool me with platitudes like “60 is the new 45.” Let’s face it. The man in the mirror is looking very rough around the edges – and frankly, he’s looking pretty rough everywhere inside the edges, too.
In recent years, I’ve become increasingly aware that my body is starting to falter. Nowadays my knees creak melodiously. When I get out of a chair, I have to think about how much thrust will be needed to propel me to a vertical posture. I’m losing my hair where I want it and gaining it in places I don’t. And my eyebrows grow in every direction but straight. When did that start happening?
In a series of futile efforts to stave off getting old, I’ve employed a variety of desperate measures. I can’t recall how many times I’ve tried dieting – mainly because my memory isn’t that good anymore. Every diet I try seems to end at the bottom of a guilt-ridden bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream at 11 o’clock at night, with me swearing I’ll start my diet tomorrow. I’ve tried working out on the treadmill, swimming and cycling, but these all suffer from a major drawback: they all require effort. I’ve tried herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba to improve my memory, but I always forget whether I took the pills that day or not. I’ve even tried self-proclaimed miracle drugs like Dyzastra. You name it. I’ve tried it. None of them have worked. I still feel like I am aging by the minute.
I have searched for the Fountain of Youth for years with no success – until now. I’m excited to share that I’ve finally found the secret to feeling instantly 20 years younger. And it did not require any expensive cosmetic surgery, painful ab crunches, uncomfortable fat-burning, vibrating belt, or Australian-method Pilates classes. I didn’t have to drink Kale smoothies, which, no matter how many blueberries you add, still taste like, well, Kale smoothies. No hair transplants. No hip replacement. Nothing that my doctor has been nagging me to change about my daily fitness habits for the past fifteen years. No, my solution was far simpler and pain-free.
Want to know my secret? I have to whisper it so others won’t hear. Okay, come close to your computer screen. A little bit closer. Here it is: Move to a place where everyone is 20 years older than you.
That’s it! It’s worked out amazingly well for me. My wife and I recently moved to an island community which is largely composed of retirees. And I have to say, when I look around me, I feel like a young man. I used to lose at singles tennis all the time. Now I usually win. I used to have the worst memory. Now people here are impressed by the fact that I can recall what happened in the news two days ago. I used to feel stiff and inflexible. Now I’m fairly certain I am the most flexible, limber person in my entire “Senior Saturdays” yoga class. Who knew that being able to hold the downward-facing dog position for 15 seconds would make me a rock star?
And you should see how thick a head of hair I have now – compared to most of the men at the Senior Community Center. They’re just jealous that I have a smaller bald spot. And that makes me feel fantastic! I recently entered a 5K walk. I came in first by over two minutes. It wasn’t even close, in part because I was the one person still able to jog. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have high-fived Edna Huggins (she’s 85) in her walker as I lapped her in mile three. But she was nice enough to give me a thumbs up. At least I think the finger she extended was her thumb.
I used to have trouble bending over and touching my toes. I still do, but at least I can still bend over, which is more I can say for my neighbor Henry Grimaldi, who turned 78 last Thursday. When I walk down the street, there is a skip in my step because, well, I can still skip. I can’t run a marathon anymore, but I’ll take on all comers when it comes to a brisk hike in the woods. And there’s at least a 50% chance I won’t get lost – so long as I remember to bring the trail map.
Admittedly, it’s possible that on occasion my youthful vitality and enthusiasm for my newfound vigor might mildly annoy some people around here. Like when I see a neighbor on the street and I challenge them to see who can race to the mailbox first. (I almost never lose!) And sure, every now and then I guess it’s possible I may rub a few noses out of joint when at the tennis club I win a match, tear off my shirt, pound my chest and proclaim, “Who thinks they can beat the king? Anybody? Anybody?” And there was that one time while playing bridge when I may have caused a bit of a ruckus by challenging everyone to an arm-wrestling competition. I beat every single octogenarian at the senior center except for 87-year-old Howard Festermitt. But his wheelchair was elevated three inches higher than my seat, so technically, I’d say he cheated.
I love living here. I have not felt this young and spry since I went to my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 1964. Gosh, I felt so young at that event. Perhaps it was because I was nine.
Please don’t tell anybody else about my brilliant Fountain of Youth discovery. Let’s keep this our little secret. The last thing I need is some obnoxious, vital 54-year-old dude with a cocky attitude moving into the neighborhood and strutting around like a vain peacock thinking he’s better than everybody else. That’s my job.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2016