It was a perfect dive … arms fully extended, head down and four inches of rock-hard ice rising to meet me at warp speed! The emergency room doctor later called it a “Superman”, although my instant replay indicates it must have looked more like an Elmer Fudd. I bruised several ribs and possibly cracked two of them, just to enhance the effect. But th-thea the-thea that’s not all folks!
Since my arms were occupied with a death grip on my upper torso, Vigi went outside to chip some ‘winter mix’ off the windshield so we could find our way to the hospital … and, not to be outdone, she successfully executed a back flip on the same slippery, snow dusted surface. Her L4 vertebra is now attempting to pass L5 like a couple of NASCAR drivers closing on the finish line at Daytona. That was more than a month ago and we’re still nursing our bruised, battered bones. Last night as we poured ourselves into our respective couch corners she asked, “Is this what old age is going to be like?”
Since Veege is a pretty upbeat person, I know when she asks a question like that it usually isn’t rhetorical. I’ve never been known for a loss of words, so the resounding silence that enveloped the room echoed even louder, eliciting both a slightly arched eyebrow and an actual pause in her knitting. It’s amazing how much can stampede across your mind’s hi-def widescreen in only a few short seconds.
I remembered a lean teen standing shirtless in front of the mirror, flexing his muscles and vainly admiring bulges that I eventually learned were called names like pecs and abs. During my middle years, I didn’t have to take my shirt off to see that many of those bulges had shifted somewhat and now stood before the looking glass calling them ‘contours’ and saying things like, “Not bad, not bad.” While I still have bulges, they have completely reconfigured themselves in both geometry and geography. None of them have names anymore.
Not long ago, in the process of greeting the new day, I stumbled past the bathroom mirror and noticed an older silvery-bearded gent giving me a curious once over. The landscape between his right and left ears was dominated by a field of skin, and I wondered who had been trying to make waffles on the side of his face that only moments before had been nestled into a properly punched pillow. Thankfully, performing my morning toilette is the only time I have no choice but to stand toe-to-toe with the updated ‘Me’ … the rest of the day I try to avoid all reflective surfaces of any kind.
As those silent seconds passed, with my widescreen now beginning to flicker, the scene changed and a devilish little voice inside my head began whispering about how food used to taste better, things lasted longer and a buck stretched all the way from necessity through desire with a little left over for saving. It reminded me of 5¢ chocolate bars that filled out their generous wrappers and didn’t taste like something you’d light on fire atop a birthday cake; how steak was so succulent and tender it made you feel as if the cow had given it up willingly … and when stuff broke, you were able to fix it instead of throwing it away. Life just used to seem less complicated. Maybe being more energetic and less brittle had something to do with it.
Then, as I looked over at my bride, her eyebrow had returned to its normal down and locked position, the yarn resumed its flight around the needles, and for some reason I began thinking about our wedding vows. “For richer or poorer,” we had promised. We’d been fortunate enough to struggle ourselves up to a comfortable middle point over the years. Where adversity sometimes pulls people apart, it has always bound us closer together with a kind of “you and me against the world” attitude. “In sickness and in health.” Well, like most people edging closer to the ‘getting-off’ place than the ‘getting-on’, we’ve had our share of door number one in the past few years. The thing is, I couldn’t remember anything about injuries anywhere on the list … certainly nothing about ice-diving.
Finally, trying to lighten the moment with something clever I offered, “Hey kid, like it or not these are the NEW good old days! If we’re going to have any ‘golden years’, I’d better buy a bucket of paint!” She didn’t seem particularly amused … didn’t even look like she thought it was cute. As if peering at me over an invisible pair of reading glasses, she sighed that sigh that women sigh [like when you spill something] and adjusted the stack of pillows supporting her back.
With one hand on my ribs, the other on the T.V. remote and Vigi’s question neatly tucked away in a corner of my cranium, we settled back to resume our evening secure in the knowledge that “for better or for worse,” we had each other … and a large bottle of Tylenol at the ready.
Listen to Bananas Crackers and Nuts Podcast. Find Links under “Recent Podcasts”… and more shows on my Podcast Page.