Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Forty Something

Middle age is not a pleasant experience.

Aside from the lingering aches and pains that used to be gone in a day are the lovely discoveries like bald spots while hair grows in places it never had before. Is my hair migrating from the top of my head to my ears? If so, why? I don’t want it there.

I now need to put sunscreen on the very tippy top of my head because I’m risking third degree burns ala Michael Jackson filming a Pepsi commercial if I forget.

I find I can’t workout more than two days in a row because my muscles simply don’t recover in time. Stupid middle aged muscles.

I’m now asleep before my two boys because they don’t have school during the summer while I still have to wake and work. What a gyp. I want to be a kid again.

I have to watch what I eat more than ever. Spicy food in moderation is still great, but too much and I wake with an active volcano in my stomach. Too much dairy or beef and my stomach rebels in ugly and painful ways.

During my next doctor’s visit I’ll have to partake in the dreaded ‘glove’ inspection. I’m hoping I can hold off on this until I’m 50, but it may be unavoidable.

There are rays of sunshine.

I’m in better shape than I was in my late 30s; I’m still immature and juvenile and laugh at politically incorrect jokes and properly timed farts; I’m wiser and a much better judge of people then ever before. To be blunt, I’ve spent enough time around people that I know idiots and bullshit artists within 5 minutes of meeting them. I can also peg intelligent, funny, well adjusted people in a matter of minutes. Granted my criteria is biased (if they like me they’re well adjusted, intelligent and funny), but it’s working for me. Don’t push it.

Also, not to offend any delicate sensibilities (although if you were delicate you wouldn’t be reading this), I’m better at sex then ever. I don’t know what happens to a man when he hits 40, but somehow everything is clicking. Wifey has even mentioned it to me at various times. Usually along the lines of ‘Where the hell did that come from?’.

I’m sure a lot of it can be attributed to being with the same partner for so many years, but it’s only been the last 2-3 that have been noteworthy. Things were always good between us (or she wouldn’t be wifey, if you know what I mean), but things have definitely been kicked to another level upon entering the fourth decade.

When I was out with my also over 40 friend I asked him if he noticed any difference and he immediately offered ‘Dude, since I turned 40 I can go at it for-EVER!’

Well said, crude, yet honest friend. In one of nature’s many cruel jokes, men around 40 have finally matched their abilities with their drive at the exact moment in their lives when they can’t fully put it to use.

Fuck you, nature.

Despite the sunny aspects of middle age, there is always a dark cloud lingering nearby. That cloud is the health and well being of your own parents.

Both of my parents are in their mid 70s and looking frailer by the day. My mother had a stroke 2 years ago, currently limps around with a stocking around her leg at all times due to blood clots forming and looks more and more like my grandmother every day.

My father has been taking medication for high blood pressure since as long as I can remember. I did not inherit my laid back attitude from either of them, either, which causes more concern. Mentally, they’re both still ‘with it’, but they seem to be teetering on the edge.

Last week wifey and I stopped by for a visit, wound up staying for dinner and witnessing a bizarre interaction between my parents. My father was telling a simple story about something or other and my mother kept interjecting minor corrections that really had no correlation to what my father was trying to tell us.

After irrelevant correction number three, my father explodes, ‘WILL YOU STOP CORRECTING ME?!’

My mother sheepishly says ‘I was just making sure you weren’t getting confused again,’ which immediately grabbed my attention.

Dear old Dad answers with ‘I don’t get confused’.

Two notes here.

1: My father’s response came out like every 80 year old who ever lived. It was a touch feeble, very defensive and grandfatherly in a highly disturbing way.

2: I can see how couples who have been married for decades can suddenly snap and murder their spouse. After my mother interrupted my father for the second time I wanted to punch her in the face. My own mother!! I guess if you’re used to dealing with someone it glances right off you, but it was aggravating the shit out of me and I wasn’t even the one talking.

My mother is actually the one I’m worried about most. After our visit she confronted my sister about having shot her mouth off about something my mother had said to her in confidence. See, I’m not great at keeping in touch with my family. That they annoy me is enough to limit my contact with them. My sister and I are the closest and we only talk once a month or so. Maybe not even that. I just don't have time nor energy for the drama that surrounds everything.

My mother, in one of her many (and increasing) rambling moments, told my sister that she hasn’t seen me in a while. This just happened to be the day before we stopped by for the above visit. Assuming my sister immediately called me upon her leaving informed her that ‘I don’t appreciate it that you go off telling your brother things I say in confidence to you’.

Sis replies with ‘Uh…what are you talking about? I haven’t spoken to him in over a month.’

Mom, clearly not buying it: ‘Uh huh. Right. I complain to you and the next day he just happens to show up.’

Actually, that’s exactly what happened. As my sister pointed out ‘You know that even if I did say something to him none of us would see him for another month’.

Note: This is one of my faults. If someone points out that I should be behaving a certain way or I should be doing this or that more often I make it a point to NOT do that. I’m stubborn and rebellious and my sister knows better than to say anything for fear that I’ll move my entire family 5000 miles away out of spite.

I should note I employ this behavior throughout all aspects of my life, so it gets me in trouble at work as you can imagine.

You can see why my mother’s new found lunacy, lack of self restraint, and border line psychosis has me concerned. Between her and my ‘still smoking like a chimney’ father in law, I’m expecting a call any day now that one of the boys’ grandparents will no longer be visiting.

In many ways, it’s the most difficult part of middle age. The pillars and strength of your childhood are now in decline and rely more on you then you on them. Often – and this is the case with my mother especially – they are still in denial about their own limitations. She still insists she’s capable of watching the boys despite barely being able to climb stairs and my over whelming fear she’ll have another stroke and drop dead while alone in the house.

No offense, Ma, but I’m trying to avoid traumatizing my children for as long as possible.

Which brings up another looming issue: How to explain to the boys why they won’t be seeing Nana or Grampie anymore. My oldest gets it (in theory), but eventually death will become all too real for both of them. I still remember my grandfather’s death and having to help carry the coffin to his grave at the age of 12. It stays with you. That first moment when you realize you will never see a person again.

Here’s hoping my boys are more than a few years away from that.

Today’s distraction: Another of my new addictions: Crimson Momentum.


Hammen said...

Hahahah my grandparents are the same way. My Gma totally submarines all my Gpa's stories by correcting totally insignificant details the whole time. Annoying as shit, like you said.

A Tribute: deer a train and basketball said...

Damn you that game is addicting. All my grandparents have died within the last 7 years, hopefully your boys don't lose one soon. It blows.

Clayton Bigsby said...

I only have one grandparent left. She's not doing to well. It sucks to watch them grow old, but she's 90 in February and all my other grandparents made it into their 80s, so that looks good for my future I guess.

BeachBum said...

Both my grandmothers made it into their mid-90s. Both grandfathers didn't make it to 80. So either they nagged them to death or male genes in my family expire around year 78.

For whatever reason, I've become acutely aware that every grandparent visit could be the last for the boys. Guess I should just enjoy it while it lasts. Or have it annoy me while it lasts. Whatever.