My teeth have begun to fall out. The medicine cabinet is now the Brundle Museum of Natural History. You wanna see what else is in it?
- Seth Brundle, "The Fly" 1986
My night table has become my museum of natural history. It is a display table on which my children witness my slow progression toward old age. As with all life forms that have come before me, I am barrelling towards extinction.
My most recent reminder of this came courtesy of my dentist:
"Do you grind your teeth when you sleep?" he asked.
Maybe I do, I thought. I do a lot of things is my sleep; I fly, I play a key role in abolishing slavery, and I beat Mr. Boitano to win the battle of the Brians and give Canada Olympic gold in 1988.
"Maybe. I don't know. Why?" I respond.
"I see evidence of grinding. There is considerable wear here...and here. I recommend a night guard."
So, now I have one. Another apparatus (in the same family as dentures, I think) that I must add to my daily routine, which is becoming a preparatory school for old age.
Shall we start from the bottom, up?
I'll bundle together my ankles, knees and back; like a cable package. I do this for you, Dear Reader, as an ode to brevity. I'll also bale my joint issues in an effort to attribute them all to my athletic youth: a glorious amateur career in figure skating.
I have degenerated disks and lumbar arthritis, my left knee feels like a melon in a vice when I assume a crouch position, and my ankles...hurt. I don't know why they do, and, as part of the enduring male tradition of denial, I don't seek a resolution, lest I be told I can no longer jog - the only exercise I get.
I am now also one of those middle-agers at whom I used to giggle. If we plan an outing during which we will be walking more than a kilometre, I must wear sensible shoes. Sensible; even the word connotes tedium and decrepitude.
My physical tenderness fosters a complimentary sympathy from my kids: "Can we wrestle, Dad, or is your back sore?"
They used to just tackle with abandon.
I feel I am 45 years-old with a fossil's fragility.
There is one other joint that may soon require attention. Pain killers and anti-inflammatories are now nestled next to my eye glasses on my night table. When I am too lazy to fetch my specs from the place I last forgot them, my elbow performs diligently as a hinge, searching for a focal point as I read four pages before nodding off.
Oh, long live the night-life!
(I also cannot fall asleep without a knee pillow. That's right, like rival siblings, even my patellae can't lean next to each other without being irritated.)
If ever I forget my knee pillow, I'll have to look for it in the middle of the night. No worries, though. I'll have time to do that when I get up to pee, at 1:20, 3:15, 4:50, and when the alarm goes off around 6.
Truthfully, this is not entirely a consequence of waning years. I have bladder sphincter dyssynergia (just click the link if you're interested, I'm too old to explain it to you. Time is life.)
This condition, too, is medically treated. My daily Myrbetriq vial stands next to the anti-inflammatory like a bishop guarding a rook.
My lifestyle is also...aging...but, in a good way, like blue cheese. Stephen King has lost his spot to historical non-fiction (oh, please, I'm not that heady. Historical non-fiction still loses the war to Grisham and John Sandford).
I recently introduced my son to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with the obligatory, "This is when people still wrote great music." Typical. Nothing other than what existed during my youth is worth anything.
When "Billy Jean" was on the radio the other day, I told my daughter, "When I was your age, this was the biggest song on the planet!"
She replied, "You say that every time an old song comes on."
An old song. That's me, now.
Yes, yes, I know. Perspective. Decades to come. I still have my health. Grandchildren to look forward to. First World problems. I know, I know.
But this is my blog. So, shut up. Give me twenty minutes to whine.
There. I feel better.
I'm just saying, aging awareness is a new phenomenon for me.
I am, "by the time-ing" a lot:
"By the time my kids have kids, I'll be retired (I hope)."
"By the time my kids are my age, I'll be almost eighty."
"By the time I finish this post, I'll be ready for a nap."
I love napping. What's with that?
What I don't love is waking up from my nap and dealing with a knee pillow, a night guard, a full bladder, a sore back, and lost glasses.
It is what it is, but I don't have to like it.
By the way, when did I start using the term "night table"?
As a kid, I just threw my shit on the floor. Now, I hate when my kids throw their shit on the floor.