Thursday, July 03, 2008

We Don't Need Nine Lives

Our oldest son had undergone a tonsillectomy recently but had some complications and needed another surgery. This development threw a major monkey wrench into our vacation plans, but what could we do? I didn’t go to medical school, and my humor column credentials don’t necessarily qualify me to override the surgeon’s admonitions, so we ended up staying home. As a consolation prize for our son (and for my wife’s sanity), we bought the “Rock Band” game for Wii.

I would highly recommend everyone who reads this column run right out and purchase this game for their family. I don’t own stock in any of the gaming companies, and I can’t say I particularly fell in love with the game. No. My reasons for this recommendation is it’s a harmless but necessary reality check: after playing it for about two minutes, you’ll quickly realize you were never destined to be a rock star and your parents were right when they told you to go to college or trade school. Suffice it to say, my fantasy of being a drummer was crushed, and I can safely say my wife isn’t the next Nelly Furtado or Gwen Stefani. In other words, all the years of my life leading up to this moment weren’t wasted.

Listening to the radio the other day, the host of the program read a statistic that the average life span for American males is now 78 years. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that I’m going to turn 39 later this year – for all of you who don’t like to do math that requires more than taking your shoes off to count higher than ten, that’s exactly half. Rather than look at this in the classic half-empty/half-full manner, I care to look at it like a roller coaster ride.

As the great chain-driven Roller Coaster of Life chinks its way to the top of the hill, it’s nice to look around and take in the view that only such heights afford. You look around at your fellow passengers: some are peeing their pants with excitement even though nothing’s happened yet (there’s a huge metaphor in that alone, but we don’t have time), some are trying to look indifferent but you know they’d rather be giving a bath to a cat with a multiple-personalities disorder, and some have no reservations at all – they are screaming at the top of their lungs begging any deity or pagan god to deliver them from this evil.

Not me. I’ve enjoyed the ride up so far, but I’m certain my plunge through Middle Age will be an incomparable experience with the upcoming corkscrew of Paying for Braces and the double loop of College Tuition. Next will be the double humps of the Twilight Years that make you feel like you’re going to be thrown out of your seat, which produces that sensation that you’re going to involuntarily lose bladder control at any moment.

Before I know it, I’ll be climbing another hill with my hair a little mussed up, and a small dab of spittle starting to drip from the right side of my mouth. Yeah, who cares? I’m not trying to impress anyone! I crest this hill and proceed downward into a tight spiral of the Home Stretch, teeth (or dentures) rattling and my vision slightly blurred. I’ll take the last corner and know that I’m about to enter the Great Wheelhouse in the Sky. The Grim Reaper will pass his scythe to his left hand and reach out to me with his right slowly shaking his head when I try to get out on the wrong side of the car – one way only. I won’t argue but only ask if my wife has already arrived or if I can wait around for her. The ride wouldn’t be worth it otherwise.

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