Speak Up Sonny
I Can’t Hear You Over My Creaking Bones
Roi J. Tamkin
I have a day job explaining healthcare benefits to Medicare recipients. I get to see first-hand the cost of health for the elderly. And I see how pills are keeping everyone over sixty-five alive. Most patients take multiple pills daily. The costs of medicine are extremely high. “Don’t get old,” my customers tell me. But they never tell me how to avoid it. Now that I’m pushing into mid-thirties territory, I’ve noticed some changes going on in both body and mind. Despite their sage advice, I am getting old.
The obvious signs are physical.
I’ve developed aches and pains in places that never ached or pained before. Thankfully, the joints are OK. But sometimes I get little jolts of pain in new areas. I mean, I get up in the morning and my back starts cracking. I stretch and my kidneys snap. My neck is tender when I yawn. I stand up, and my butt throbs. What’s that about? It’s about aging. Fleshy parts of my body go stiff, and the stiff parts go weak. My bones are breaking down. It’s normal to hear cartilage crack when bending knees or rotating a stiff neck. My bones crack when I’m standing still.
My vision and hearing are gently fading into that good night. For the first time in my life, I wear glasses. Not just any glasses. The kind Hans Moleman wears on The Simpsons . Actually, I don’t think I’m losing my hearing as much as I’ve lost my patience to listen. I just don’t want to be aware of things anymore. Maybe that’s senility creeping in. I’ve stopped caring about the outside world. I only want to stay home hearing my bones creak and wonder why my bum hurts all day.
The other signs of old age sneaking up on me are mental.
It seems everyone but me is married. I can’t keep up with who’s getting a divorce, who has kids and who is having their first kid. I am single, and I have fooled myself into thinking that staying single means staying young. A single guy can do what he wants. Stay up late, go to a club, drink milk from a carton, whizz with the door open, etc… But the truth is I do none of these things. I’d rather watch TV than go to a rave. In fact, I get sleepy around eight PM. Of course, I wake before the roosters, like old people do.
I find myself unable to relate to the younger crowd. I’m afraid of teenagers. I feel more comfortable with people ten or twenty years older than me than with someone five years younger. I can’t tolerate their petty problems and whinings. I want to hear about the doom I’m facing.
I walk around in my underwear. In my own apartment, of course. My father walked around in his underwear — in the neighborhood. My father used to mow the lawn in his boxers. I told my friends he was a lunatic. Now I know: he was getting old.
Another sign of getting old is a shift in priorities. It’s important that I own things. My own car, stocks, and property. Things I never thought about when I was young. When a person is six months old, they have all the brain cells an individual will have for the rest of their life. Possessing what’s left of my brain cells is very important to me. In fact, it’s priority one.
I’ve concluded that losing brain cells leads to elderly thinking. If only one of my Medicare customers could tell me how to keep all my cells together, I might have this aging thing kicked. Instead I spend all my time on my couch in my underwear worried that my bottom is going to ache in the morning.