The other day, as a fellow student was giving their "My Life" presentation in class, I found out that someone I had pegged as five years older than myself was actually five years younger. There was a moment of, "Holy crap, do I look older than him?"
I think those of us who have lived long enough remember when we recognized transitions. For me, the death knell for being a young whelp came when the nephews and I were hiking at Nelson's Ledges. For those of you who don't know, the ledges are a large limestone formation that has been worn away by running water forming deep channels in the rocks. You can hike on top or down below. We were on top, and at one of the deeper channels when I suddenly had an urge to run and leap across to the other side. I was only 5 yards or so. And then a part of my brain that had been heretofore quiescent spoke up and said, "Are you fucking insane. That's a 40' dead drop. If you miss, more than likely you're not making it out of here."
Yep. Put any thoughts of being spry in the box and close the lid. I was old at that moment.
There was another time, also with the nieces and nephews, that we went to the Health Museum. There was a circular mirror you crawled into. The kids were in there and they wanted me to come in. So I crawled under the wall and stood up. That's when I said, "Who's that bald guy?"
That sound? That's another nail being banged in.
I guess we all have opinions of ourselves that differ from the person we see in the mirror. For me, while I've overtly accepted my weight, male pattern baldness (and now thinning hair), and the various oddities of my body as it ages, in my mind is a picture of me at 18. Fortunately I've remembered the difference at crucial moments (like at Nelson Ledges). So far.
There's also the fact that it takes me longer to get over some illness. Or exhaustion. Used to be able to sleep in one day and bounce right back up. Now I don't so much bounce as moan, roll over and go back to sleep. And let us not forget the ability to eat a whole pizza and not have it phase me. The creaks and pops of moving in the wrong direction and not being able to twist myself like I used to, all of them add up to my body trying to tell me, "Keep this up and I'm gonna hurt you."
When I went out for the nephew's bachelor party a few weeks ago, one of the bars had a sign saying, "We card everybody" outside. I got out my license only to be waved in my the bouncer with a, "Seriously?" look on his face.
When can I apply for my Golden Buckeye card? You can get some good discounts with that. So, I've realized that I'm no longer a hunk. Have you had that moment where you realized you're no longer a babe or a hunk?