"Papillon." I suppose that I could thank god for still being alive and relatively healthy at age fifty-five, but I'd rather thank my lucky stars, even though we're talking about stars deader than Judy Garland. I have plenty of reasons to stay sane and on the right side of the law, because I am a father, and I don't mean father as in, "could you help an old altar boy father?" I mean father, as in male parental unit, model 55. Warranty long expired.
Recently, my son has asked me about the lines on my forehead, and I had to give him the talk. You know the one. The one about how parents are not like magic ponies, but instead they age, sometimes at an alarming rate, depending on their daily stress rate. I covered skin elasticity and how aging is a gradual deterioration of the body. Being fifty-five is the reason that I cannot guard my ten-year-old on the basketball court. That and the fact that I was never an athlete. More of a nerd, as my son would say. A nerd with an artistic bent.
I have entirely new sets of aches and pains each year. My legs are not as pretty as they used to be, but my toes are still sexy, which is an accomplishment at my age. No hang nails or corns. No ugly calluses or warpage of the foot. My back hasn't gone out in quite a while. ( Did I just jinx myself?) Walking to and from work every day has kept me somewhat svelte, but I still need to be better about eating my fruits and veggies. In the last year or so, I have started kicking and screaming in my sleep, sometimes throwing myself to the floor. I feel my jaws trembling and realize that I’m clenching my teeth. (“Night guard? I don’t need no stinkin’ night guard.") During my last haircut, not only did I notice the white hair falling onto the apron as she cut, but I noticed a thinning spot at the crown of my thick skull.
It's been no bed of roses. No pleasure cruise. And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few…thousand, which is possibly why I’m in the midst of my third marriage, and have been unfriended on Facebook by my youngest sister. It may be why my brother calls me in the middle of the night to tell me he loves me, and then in the next beer infused breath tells me to fuck off. It may be true that a wise man welcomes problems, because they help him learn and grow, but they also raise his blood pressure and constrict his bowels. Even though I've displayed the characteristics of a curmudgeon in the past, I think I can safely say that I've arrived at age fifty-five. I will never be this young again. Now I can look forward to senior discounts and oversized sunglasses; and many more mistakes with which to grow wise.