In a few days I’ll be experiencing my 70th birthday. Wow, I can’t believe I’m that old!
It really shouldn’t be such a surprise because I’ve had plenty of hints. How could I not notice when the veins on the back of my hands stand out like a GoogleEarth satellite view of the Amazon and my skin, liberally sprinkled with liver spots, shows more wrinkles than a dollar bill in a hooker’s purse. Even without my glasses, the image I see reflected in the bathroom mirror as I shave each morning reveals a rainbow of colors – Goldfinch yellow teeth; hair the hue of dirty snow, and eyeballs that a ‘House and Garden’ reporter might describe as an interesting combination of dusky rose and milky brown.
But here’s the really odd part. While I’m constantly reminded that my body has continued to age over the past seventy years, I find that my brain seems to have stopped maturing at the chronological age of fifteen.
If you doubt me, just ask my wife. She’ll confirm that I articulate a very sophomoric sense of humor, reflecting the same superficiality I expressed as a fifteen year old teenager.
For example, take sex. The opposite sex not the carnal kind. When I turned fifteen, my hormones kicked in and I started to notice girls and cars. At fifteen I must admit that with both girls and cars, I only noticed headlights and trunks. Nothing beats a nice pair of headlights and a roomy, curvy trunk. The thing is, and Judi will confirm this, I still drool and ogle when I see a new model with a nice set of headlights and a roomy trunk. Of course unlike my teen age ability to recall every automotive detail, I can no longer readily identify the model, let alone the year of a new car…. or girl.
And then there’s my body-brain connection. My teenage brain says, “I think today I’ll split a cord of wood, wash the car, take the dog for a three mile hike, then go fishing for a few hours. My seventy-year-old body soon reminds me, “I’ll let you split two pieces of wood, think about washing the car and then, before we walk to get the mail, we’ll take a short nap in the chair while you try to stay awake watching an old ‘Cheers’ rerun.” In other words, my brain writes checks my body can’t cash.
I often wonder how in the heck my 15 year-old brain allowed me to keep adult jobs for fifty years. An educated guess? (From a high school sophomore’s perspective of course!) It may be possible that many of my male co-workers and bosses never noticed my “stilted male maturity syndrome” because they too were operating with a teenager’s brain.
While it’s not scientific, I have photographic evidence giving credence to my theory that “stilted male maturity syndrome” may be hereditary. I have a photo of my Great Grandfather standing next to a tree house he built when he was about my current age. He built it to play cards, drink beer and swap stories with his buddies. They didn’t have cars in 1880 but they did have girls and trains so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that my great grandfather ogled and drooled when he saw a good set of headlights and a nice caboose. If I’d only known him!
I’ve been sitting at the computer for an hour now and I have to leave. Oh, for sure I have the mental energy to keep on typing but my seventy year old bladder’s time table is reminding my teenage brain that, if I sit here much longer, I may find I’ve reverted to the toddler urinary habits that so annoyed my mother.