4 Ways Getting Older Makes You Behave Like an A-hole
The worst day of your life is the day you realize you're old. Well, unless you get hit by a train some day, then that day will be worse. But let's say your life is pretty much devoid of terror, mayhem, and gross bodily harm; then the worst day of your life is that day when you're not the young, awesome badass you used to be, and now you're cynical and grunt when you stand up.
It's not even your fault that these things happen to you -- it's time and decrepitude. You want to stay awesome forever, but your sore back wants those kids on their skateboards out the window to shut up for a minute so you can hear what the hell Wolf Blitzer is telling you. And it's not just that. Old, cruddy behavior seeps in all kinds of ways.
You Avoid the Phone and the Door
Remember when you were a kid and the phone ringing was like a tiny version of Christmas? Every ring promised surprises. Was it the president of Earth calling to tell you that you won a unicorn? Was it your best friend calling to tell you that the president of Earth just called to tell them they won a unicorn? Was it friggin' grandma? Only one way to find out!
The allure of the phone died sometime around age 20 when people who wanted money from you started calling. And sure, now you have caller I.D., so you can see who's calling and enjoy only the calls you want, but that doesn't change the fact you have to look and sneer at each and every number you don't want to be bothered with. You grew into a screener. When you were a kid, the gas company could be calling to tell you that you've been inhaling toxic ass fumes for years, and you'd still think it was awesome. Now you have to debate whether talking to your own mother is worth the hassle of the 60-plus-minute marathon you know it's going to turn into.
A knock at the door was equally awesome when you were a kid. Had a friend come to visit? A distant relative with presents? Holy shit, did you have mail? You'd run to that door to find out. Now if someone comes over that you didn't invite, you're peering out the crack in the curtain, because fuck you Jehovah's Witnesses, fuck you guy who wants me to switch gas companies, fuck you kid selling overpriced chocolate for his school, and fuck you home invasion. I'm not falling for it.
There's a direct correlation between worldly responsibilities and one's willingness to engage in spur-of-the-moment interactions with other humans. No responsibility as a kid means everyone is awesome and would only call or visit to share that awesomeness. A world of responsibilities means it's bill collectors and repo men and exes and salespeople and ax-murderers 90 percent of the time, and the other 10 percent are just assholes. It's not worth it.
You Want to Horde Valuables
Age turns many of us into miserly old Smaugs atop our crapulent throne of golden goodies, even if the only golden goodies you can afford are goldenrod-colored throw pillows. Not everyone is like this; some people go insane in the exact opposite direction and toss money away like that shit is on fire. But you'll find a lot of people, as they age, just want to accumulate wealth. Work hard, get a promotion, get paid more so you can work harder, longer hours, get paid more and work harder, longer hours. You'll die dressed in business casual of a heart attack in your late 50s, but dammit, you'll be able to afford the best coffin money can buy.
This age-old old-age problem has hampered humanity for years, even those of us who eschew hampers for sacks. What's the point of having money if you don't spend it? For many it's the rainy-day theory -- you need to save that shit for a rainy day, because apparently if it rains enough we're all going to buy jet skis. For the most part, those rainy days never come, and old people end up leaving small fortunes to their relatives if they like their families or to cats if they don't. Do you know how many cats in the world right now have more money than you do? Too damn many. No cat should have butlers. What the fuck kind of butling does a cat need, anyway? They eat floor ham.
Basically, as you proceed through working life, you start living to work. You work because you need to save, you save because you need security, and one day you notice you're 20 years older, you have a savings account, and you barely did anything fun with your life. Don't let that be you.
You Need to Learn Moderation
This isn't a cool story or anything, it's more of a reflection on pathetic misjudgment. I recall when I was about 18 being at a party with some friends who just got their own place. They invited everyone and then some, the place was packed with people I'd never even seen before, there were kegs packed to the rafters, and I packed it in before sundown. I got so drunk in the span of about an hour, I had to leave. How drunk was I? I recall sitting on the toilet in the bathroom despite there already being four girls in there having a conversation. I recall sitting in the parking lot of the deli next door drooling into a puddle between my feet that grew so big people assumed I had vomited. I recall waking up in my own bed the next day. Fun night.
The point of my little tale is that moderation is not the sort of thing any teenager has even considered thinking about. Why would I not drink like a fish when there were three tapped kegs available, plus the vodka I brought for myself because I didn't know there were going to be kegs? The very idea was insulting to both me and my powerful, young liver.
When you get older you need to buy reduced-sodium crackers because your blood pressure gets too high. That's the most pathetic fucking sentence I will ever type. Reduced-sodium crackers. Can you even imagine? Could you have dared to imagine your life would turn out that way back when you were a binge-drinking dynamo who ate Big Macs to be healthy and drank Red Bull as a nutritious alternative to the malt liquor you normally enjoyed?
All the fun things you enjoyed in excess have to be scaled back in old age. Even boners. You think those Viagra guys out there are having multiple boners a day? They can't afford to; those pills are expensive. That's why everyone wants one to last four hours, to make it worth their while. They can't fiscally enjoy another one for at least a week. Even sex itself seems like one of those rare oases in the desert if hacky stand-ups and '80s sitcoms are to be believed. Once you're married and over 40, you have it about as often as you have an eye exam. Which is to say not often. Or once a year. Or slightly more often if you rub them a lot.
Resting Becomes Entertainment
I had a puppy who would sometimes start running in a circle in the living room, making a sound something like "hashhashhash" while he did so. He'd just run and make that sound. He'd do it for upwards of 10 minutes at a time, which may not seem like much, but why don't you set a stopwatch for 10 minutes and literally just run in a circle in your living room while growling to yourself. After two minutes you'll feel thoroughly insane. He loved it, though. Or he was very angry but felt he needed to do it. Either way, he stuck with it, and I admire that about him. But I also envy his ability to do something so pointlessly exhausting.
I like to think that when I was a kid I probably had that kind of energy. I recall doing insane shit like trying to climb cliffs and riding a bicycle off a pier, then swimming back to shore fighting the undertow for the stupid bike so I could do it again. Once I even rolled down a hill inside a garbage can, apparently to see how much I could puke in a single sitting. It was a lot. Now when I wake up in the morning, I want to have a sit down because getting up seems like a lot of effort.
Meeting at 4? Sounds great, I'll sleep until then.
You don't want to be tired when you get older. I know I have a hell of a lot of exhaustion ahead of me still; I'm not that old, but it starts creeping up on you. You did all that dumb shit when you were young, and now it's catching up to you with blown knees and carpal tunnel and a sore lower back. And most of that was probably caused by masturbating, which you can't do anymore because of that pill thing. Unless you're a woman, of course, and my knowledge of nearly expired lady parts tells me they often wind up dried out like figs and in need of gels and various lubricants from your local pharmacist to help get the ol' pig whistle nestled into place for that once-yearly gruntaluffagus stomp your parents call "getting romantic."
At the end of the day, whatever effort you put in to being active and doing things isn't so much a reward as it is the cost of not being a human turnip. Really, all you want to do for fun is just sit in a nice, comfy chair. And, on weekends, that's just what you do. Your weekends are when you do nothing and you like it, as opposed to the week, when you do nothing and you hate it. God, what happened to you? Time, man. Time and shittiness.
Now, lest you all run off to the comments to question the decade in which I was born and then to tell me of your septuagenarian Aunt Myrtle who still rides emus competitively, you need to remember this is cultivated from years of working in offices where I am routinely the youngest person by double digits. I suspect maybe even triple in some cases. I once worked with a man so old that he had an embroidered pocket square to go with every suit he wore to work, and every suit he wore was a different, full-on three-piece and made from the wool of some kind of ruminant that had been hunted to extinction by the Micmacs. He was my secret Santa one year, and his gift to me was a shaving kit featuring Brut cologne, a brush, and that cup you used to make lather in for shaving. Do you even know what I'm talking about? Have you even seen that thing in real life outside of a museum or a movie about Al Capone? It's about as modern as a Victrola, or Cher. That's how old this man was. Fuckin' old.
So is your fate sealed? Of course not. Look at Nina Hartley -- she's 55, and she still makes porno. You're not limited by age, you just need to be aware of it. Be prepared for the shitty things it wants to do to you, like making you wash your driveway or keep hard candy on the table. No one wants hard candy. They wanted it back when sugar was first invented. Now we have peanut butter cups. Fuck hard candy. You hear that, old people? Fuck hard candy.
For more from Felix, check out 3 Shortcuts to Not Being a Terrible Person. And then check out If Tattoos Actually Told the Truth.