It is impossible to discuss retirement without conceding the obvious fact that the only reason my wife and I have reached this glorious stage of life is because we are not getting any younger. Each day there is a new ache or pain, a new wrinkle or blemish, a new belt or dress size.
These afflictions occur to all of us because age is a comprehensive attack on the human body. It never retreats, and there is no defense. You are held hostage while it slowly transforms you into that barely recognizable person you squint at in the mirror.
Speaking from personal experience, it is incredibly disconcerting to watch your body slowly self-destruct with each passing year.
Now, if you are below the age of fifty, you have no clue as to what I’m talking about. However, if you are a not so proud member of AARP, you know exactly what I mean – even if you don’t want to admit it.
So, let me start with perhaps the most unpleasant topic of all.
The entire focus of our little dog’s world revolves around peeing and pooping. Sadly, it is the same for me. When I was thirty, I never dreamed I would monitor those particular activities so closely. Now their importance in my life cannot be overstated. Too often I do too much of one and not enough of the other, and that is all I’m going to say about it.
These necessary bodily functions are now strictly controlled with powerful prescription meds with names I can’t pronounce. However, you can be sure they are the first things that get packed when we take a trip. I don’t know about you, but it has been my experience that traveling is not conducive to regulating the body’s natural tendencies.
Now on to other matters.
For those of you who are racking up the years at a frightening pace (you know who you are), we are supposed to take comfort in the fact that experts claim inner beauty is more important than physical beauty. I sure hope they’re right.
My side of the family has never been what you would call classically handsome. We lean more towards being barely presentable. Then when you add on the wrinkles, hair loss, and extra pounds that age is happy to provide, we cross over into an unpleasant area that borders on hideous.
Hopefully, all that inner beauty that is oozing out of us will more than compensate for our lack of attractiveness – but I have my doubts.
Thankfully, clothing can hide a lot of our least desirable features. That creates a tremendous contrast in the way we dress at various stages of our lives.
When you are young, you dress to look cool and to make an impression. You actually care about fashion. But when you are older, you dress to be comfortable. Tight restrictive clothing is no longer an option. There is now more of you, and it has to go somewhere.
When you are young, you feel secure about your body. But when you are older, you are obsessed with keeping everything covered. You know that if you don’t want to see it than certainly the rest of the world has no interest in it.
When you are young, you dress to reveal your personality. But when you are older, you dress to have quick access to body parts that you may need to get to in a hurry. (In the frantic moments leading to an emergency trip to the bathroom, you don’t want to be dealing with multiple layers or a lot of zippers. Every second counts.)
However, clothing can only provide so much camouflage. There are still visible areas that need to be dealt with.
Women, who once enjoyed a healthy natural glow to their skin, now have to apply makeup with a garden trowel. Eyebrows are penciled in with all the skill of a portrait artist, and facial hair begins to grow at a rate that would make any teenage boy going through puberty ecstatic.
Men also attempt to disguise their physical deterioration. What was once a 36” waist is now a 48” waist still crammed into 36” jeans. The constantly inflating midsection is held in check by a sturdy leather belt and a huge silver buckle worn ten inches below the stomach. It works on the same engineering principle as a dam holding back a large body of water.
Even sadder are the gentlemen who are undeniably bald but are still able to convince themselves that they are being clever when they try to cover twelve inches of scalp with three human hairs in an utterly futile attempt to convince other rational people that they still have bangs.
Since it is obvious that vanity increases for both men and women as we age, it is fortunate that there is a corresponding decline in our eyesight. That happy coincidence helps to soften the blow when we look in the mirror each morning.
I suppose since we have absolutely no choice in the matter, we might as well admit the inevitable and try to accept that getting old is not really that bad.
I mean what’s so bad about not being able to see, not being able to hear, not be able to sit for long stretches of time, not being able to stand for long stretches of time, not being able to eat food you actually enjoy and not being able to drive at night because you might hit a deer or a personal injury attorney?
What’s so bad about struggling to stay awake until eight o’clock in the evening, eating a late dinner at a restaurant at four-thirty in the afternoon or getting overly excited about senior discounts on unmentionable items you never thought you would need to buy?
What’s so bad about having crow’s feet, varicose veins, love handles, hemorrhoids, or forgetting where you parked the car and deciding it’s just easier to buy another one?
And, finally, what’s so bad about enduring excessive hair growth in all the wrong places, having the uncanny ability to actually gain weight while sleeping, and being cursed with the inability to determine when that ominous rumbling in your stomach is not just gas?
Oh well……I suppose it ultimately comes down to your personal point of view regarding old age. In my case, I am willing to endure all of these unpleasant irritations for as long as possible because I don’t care that much for the alternative.