Being older isn’t really all that bad. Sure, there’s annoying stuff, like constantly being on patrol for ear and nose hair, but on the whole it’s not as awful as I thought it would be. Actually, I never really thought about being this old. As a kid, and probably up to my 20s or so, the whole length between 30 through 70 just seemed sort of boring, a vague halfway point between kick ass young adult-ness and the time when it would be acceptable for me to wear a white suit and give out long winded speeches about the old days to anyone who would listen. And yeah, before you comment, I realize that’s what I do here, but I don’t wear a white suit while doing it, so it’s totally different.
Luckily, I’m incredibly immature, so mentally and emotionally I’m about the same as I was in my 20s, with maybe a bit more self-confidence and knowledge tossed in as seasoning. Physically, I can probably do more now than I did back then; while this sounds awesome, like I’m Jack LaLane, or one of those senior citizens waterskiing on commercials, it’s more a comment on how sedentary I was in my 20s. After running track and cross country and skating daily in high school, about the only strenuous activity I regularly participated in was drinking King Kobra malt liquor, being an obnoxious loudmouth, and taking long showers.
But you know what’s really weird about getting old? Realizing that whole crowds of people are younger than you. Football players, sexy actresses, politicians, business owners, cops; all sorts of people that were always older than you are suddenly young enough to be your kids, if you started young enough.
But you sort of accept this, or at least don’t really think about it, at least until circumstances force you to confront this fact in the creepiest and most uncomfortable ways.
A few years ago I had a dermatologist appointment. As many of you know, I am terrified of doctors, but I’m OK with dermatologists, which you’d realize if you’d ever seen a picture of me from high school.
My Graduation Photo
This was a regular follow up visit to make sure I didn’t have skin cancer or whatever, and the previous visit took about 5 minutes. No big deal.
Except that weeks earlier I had noticed a little red spot. On my balls. I’m not really a hypochondriac, but this seemed like a good time to start. Was this the beginning of nut cancer? Some sort of weird ball leprosy? It couldn’t be a venereal disease, could it? I was happily having regular sexual activity, and was having a great time doing so. I knew there had to be a catch. But it couldn’t be that. I mean, I was with a regular partner, and we had discussed all that stuff before and besides, we used condoms, so…Oh wait. No, I guess we didn’t really. Shit, I wonder if I got it off some toilet in the library and spread it to her? How would I explain that?
This made for a stressful week before the appointment. I didn’t research any of this stuff on WebMD or any of the other sites geared to hypochondriacs, I knew too many friends who looked stuff up and became convinced they would die within minutes of shutting down the computer. No, better to wait and see what the doctor said.
My dermatologist was an older guy who told corny jokes and did his best to make his patients comfortable. He also played classic rock in the examining room. The last time I heard “The Boys are Back in Town” and “Maggie May.” While “Cowboy Song” or “Every Picture Tells a Story” would have been better jams, it was still nice.
I was early for my appointment. The assistant leads me back and starts talking to a group of young women in scrubs in front of the examining room. One of them is a youngish Asian woman. She is wearing pigtails and is showing off her new braces, both of which make her look about 12 years old.
“Oh, you finally got them,” the women exclaim, as I’m sort of paying attention but mostly wondering what sort of long and painful process they’re going to have to use to scrape this disease from my testicles.
I’m told to strip to my underwear. I notice there is no classic rock playing. It’s very quiet, a nice place for me to contemplate and accept my ball-less future, as I’ve now resigned myself to the fact that they’re both going to have to be cut off. I have a moment of acceptance. You know, what have they ever done but get me in trouble anyway? Things would probably be more peaceful and less stressful as a eunuch. OK. Let’s do this.
The door opens. Naturally, my new doctor is the Asian woman wearing cartoon scrubs, pigtails and braces.
“Wait,” I think. “What happened to Doctor Oldie?"
“OK, stand up, we’re just going to check your skin.”
I swear she giggled. Jesus, how old is this girl? Is this Take Your Daughter to Work Day?
She looks me over. I can’t stop staring at her pigtails and braces. When she left the house this morning did she purposely try to look as young as possible? I just came in to get my diseased balls cut off, not to feel like a pedophile.
“Everything looks fine. Anything new since the last visit?”
“Uh, no, not really.”
Tell her, tell her, tell her, tell her. You can’t ignore this. You have to have this looked at, if for no other reason than to stop freaking out.
“Good, then we’ll…
“Well, OK, actually there is something. Uh..you know, down there. I mean, it’s probably nothing but …”
“Down there? Where, exactly?”
“Your penis? Your scrotum?”
“Uh… yeah…uh… that one. Scrotum. Yep, scrotum.”
“You don’t have to be nervous. I’ve seen everything before. Just take your underwear off and let me have a look.”
Normally, I like hearing women say that last sentence but this time a lot of the sexy had gone out of it.
“Where is the problem?”
“Right …right here. That red spot.”
God, now this braces wearing girl is inches away from my equipment. Am I being filmed or something? I mean, they’d have to see that I didn’t try anything, right?
“Oh, that? That’s just a blood vessel that burst. People get them all over their body. Nothing to worry about.”
I swear she giggled again.
After that experience, I thoroughly research any doctors I might have to get naked in front of. They have to be at least 20 years older than I am. It’s much less stressful that way.