Like a fine wine or an aged cheese, I've never had a problem with getting older.
Not for me, coyly turning 29 five years in a row. Not for me, covering my gray hair. Not for me, cringing if anyone looked at my driver's license (OK. I still cringe, but only because my weight is on it. I'm not made of stone, for Pete's sake. Just Cheetos).
So I have never flinched at a milestone birthday. Sensitive about my age? Hah! I'll see your Grim Reaper cake and raise you a case of Depends. Toss in a box of Preparation H and you've got a deal!
That all changed this spring. I was driving back home from Tucson and just south of Casa Grande, I realized that in 18 short years I will be 70 years old.
And that's when I nearly drove off the road, because all of a sudden my dotage seemed, not like some nebulous concept that was for other people, and not for me (how could it be for me? I still feel like I'm 19), but something that was going to smack me in the future dentures in less time than it has taken my son to become a man.
And that didn't take any time at all. He was born, like, yesterday. Which means tomorrow, I'll be, like, old.
As I usually do when confronted with my mortality, I called my parents, who are in their mid-80's and presumably have sorted out these issues. I told them about the 70 thing and they just laughed and said, "Seventy? That's nothing. You can do 70 standing on your head." Sigh of relief, but they kept talking.
"Oh, yeah! Seventy's nothing. Things don't start to go to heck until you're 75."
Which would be great, and for some weird reason 23 years to old seems more manageable, except ‘things' are obviously starting to go to heck now. Something called "impingement syndrome" in my shoulder means I can't take off a T-shirt without weeping. Apparently hammer toes are hereditary, because my feet look exactly like they belong to my 84-year-old father. The only good thing about the bad feet is that they're so repellent that you won't get too close to me and see my wrinkles forming just like time-lapse photography in a National Geographic special, turning me into Keith Richards' doppelganger.
I'm starting to regard my poor, cranky chassis the same way you eye your old car: It's paid off, and used to be reliable, but you're starting to wonder if it would make more sense to just junk it and get a new one.
Except if Keith Richards hasn't been able to get a new one, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to.
I've learned a few things here:
• If you Google "hammer toes," you won't ever want to eat again.
• The getting older thing will be OK if I can land a movie role playing Johnny Depp's dad.
• De-evolving into an old Johnny Carson joke ("I'm so old...HOW OLD ARE YOU?") would be funnier if I had any comfort that any of you were old enough to remember who Johnny Carson is.
I'd take a show of hands, but my shoulder...Ow.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly.