Aging Gracefully, or, OH GOD, THE PAIN, IT’S LIKE A THOUSAND KNIVES OF FIRE STABBING MY SPINE

GateHouse – I’d like to pause from delivering the sprawling, over-researched narrative news features that generally appear in this space to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart: pain.

Actually, it’s more near and dear to my back, though it also likes to rocket out of the lower central quadrant of it, travel north through the spine, boing like a proton around the brain-al region and return eventually to its much-missed homeland like a sea turtle returning to its original beach.

This pain is the direct result of a lousy stupid few hours spent playing lousy stupid basketball, but it’s mostly a semi-literally crippling reminder of the advancing, massing ravages of age, and also how easily the skinny fragile mid-30s human who is not Lance Armstrong can be damaged.

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http://bit.ly/9Okiq4

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I should pause here to mention two things:

  1. Do not microwave a Hostess Ho-Ho while it’s still in the wrapper, because fire will happen.
  2. As anyone, though mostly everyone from high school, will attest, I am not remotely an athlete. I can run for some distances, very slowly, but as a friend in the damaging pickup game in question memorably instructed: “Everyone on this team has roles. Yours doesn’t involve shooting.” This sort of thing.

Yet what I lack in “skills” I make up for by being sporadically taller than other people, so my role in pickup ball is to stand nearish the hoop and generally try to impede their progress. If I can cause chaos and inconvenience, or, on a really super day, make someone injure themselves by falling hopefully onto their glasses, I consider that basically getting a triple-double, and I’ll demand to get stop for ice cream on the way home. So when I say I’m “playing basketball,” I mean more that I’m occasionally traveling through about a 4-square-foot plot of real estate while a largely unrelated game occurs around me.

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Related, sort of

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Anyway, during this stupid game something happened that made me briefly feel as though I had been applied to a stove, so here’s what I did: I finished the game, having successfully ruined a couple of other people’s plans to do impressive things but accomplishing few myself, got in the car and drove home. Here’s what I didn’t do: stretch. Apparently stretching is big. Stretching is what you do to make your muscles not seem like they’re out to re-create the first couple of Black Sabbath records. Yet, I did not know this, because that is something an athlete would know.

Turns out that during that drive my lower back muscles had apparently been contorting themselves into a large and possibly Coast Guard-approved knot, which I failed to realize until I got home, stepped out of my car and immediately crumpled into a puddle of former human on the driveway.

So, if the reader will forgive one final bit of whining, the pain, coupled with the growing field of gray hair and declining interest in comic-book movies, can only mean one thing: I’m fully at the age where pretending I’m younger than I am goes from being an enjoyable novelty to full-time occupation, and it will take a great deal of preparation to get ready. I shall begin immediately, by stretching.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

2 responses to “Aging Gracefully, or, OH GOD, THE PAIN, IT’S LIKE A THOUSAND KNIVES OF FIRE STABBING MY SPINE

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