“So, who looks better?” I asked Rachel without warning.
“Huh?”was all I got.
“That guy or me. Who looks better?”
Rachel leaned up from her sun bed, squinted her eyes and repeated herself, “Huh?”
“That Italian looking guy over there. Who looks better, him or me?”
Rachel rolled her eyes and looked over in the direction I was nodding. “Does it really matter?”
I simply repeated the question. I’m vain. Of course it mattered.
“You look great,” she said grinning at me.
“And he’s a lot younger than you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re almost forty-one. You’re old…”
I’m not quite sure what was said after that. All I could hear for the next few moments was the deafening echo of Rachel’s last two words. You’re old…you’re old…you’re old…
I’m not going to lie. It stung. But before I delve any further into my bruised ego, I must clarify my question. I fear that without such elucidation I might be putting my beautiful (albeit overly direct) bride into a bad light.
When I asked Rachel who looked better, I was looking for a comparison between our physiques. I am at the gym four to five times a week and like to get a little feedback (other than my nightly modeling sessions in front of the mirror) to be sure that all of my time and effort isn’t in vain. Understanding my idiosyncrasies all too well, Rachel knew exactly what I meant. What she didn’t know (obviously) was the correct answer to my question.
As I posed the query, I anticipated that Rachel would flip flop between the two of us. I assumed that she would have commented on the size or definition of his arms, shoulders, or chest. I even half expected her to express the truth. (He might have been a little more defined than me. Maybe.) What I didn’t expect was for her to take a poke at my soft spot. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that she would call me old.
Of course, I know Rachel wasn’t calling ‘me’ old. (I asked her again just to be sure.) She was stating a simple but harsh fact. I have lost my youthful look. At forty, my skin no longer has the same amount of elasticity that it once did. I might not agree that the slight sag in my epidermis makes me look old; however, I cannot argue that when comparing us, it was not difficult to determine who the older of the two was. It seems as though my endless presses, curls and crunches did not save me from the cruel bite of Father Time. I must thank Rachel for reminding me of this fact.
And really, I should. The fact is that I am forty (nearly forty-one). I have worked, played and partied hard to get here. Aside from my life lines, follicular inaptitude and loose fitting skin I also have a lifetime of memories that track my journey along the way. Trust me when I say that it has been one hell of a grand ride so far.
Nevertheless, always wanting more, I convince myself that forty is the new twenty. “Why not?” I say. Life is too short to waste on getting old. This mentality, as fulfilling as it may be, has the tendency to get me into trouble from time to time. In choosing to forget my age, I also let slip the notion of moderation. (Another one of my father’s mantras – everything in moderation including moderation.) And thus I often doom my self to a day or two of soreness, suffering and/or mild embarrassment. Not to mention, a slightly ticked off wife.
I Gotta Feeling, by the Black Eyed Peas, is one of those songs that seems to bring me back to being young. This is odd as the track was first released in 2009. Nevertheless, something about the beat keeps me feeling energized. Whilst drunk, I have climbed, twirled and performed to it on poles at a number of different bars throughout the city. I was even told that I had pretty mean skills. Whilst sober, I have gone crazy to it at home and in the car, singing and dancing like a madman. Sadly, I was told that my skills here were missing. (Have I introduced you to my wife?) All the same, whatever the venue, and whenever the time, whether I am jumping to the beat on our worn out box spring, or stumbling around to it drunk at a bar, I Gotta Feeling always seems to keep the sag out of my skin.
I know that I will never win the fight against aging, but that doesn’t mean I will ever submit to getting old. As I said, life is just too short. Although family, work and responsibility have changed me a great deal from the person I was fifteen, ten or even five years ago, I have not forgotten what it means to be young. I believe whole heartedly that my ability to see the world through the eyes of a younger man has kept me looking and feeling more youthful than I really am. It has also given me the confidence to ask such questions as, “Who looks better?”. Nevertheless, the next time I do so, I will be sure to first educate Rachel on the kindness that comes from a well told white lie.
I Gotta Feeling youtube link