Make My Day
THE SOUNDS OF AGING
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- I had a horrible thought at the beginning of the year: I'm 18 months away from being 40.
Not "I'm 38-and-a-half" or "I'm nearly 39." No, I took the extra step to figure out how long it will be before I'm four decades old.
I'm sure many of you are thinking I've got nothing on you, since you passed 40 five presidential administrations ago. But you have to remember that this is uncharted territory for me. I've never been this old. I've never been "nearly 40" until just a few weeks ago. It instills one, not so much with a sense of "shock and awe," as a sense of "aw, S-word!"
It's not that I think I'm getting old, or even middle-aged. That won't hit until I buy my first red sports car. But I am on a nodding acquaintance with the elderly gentlemen who eat breakfast at my local McDonald's every morning. Every day, I can find a large group of my town's old men, hunkered around their same tables, talking about who's in Florida this month, what's the ache du jour, and asking "you know who just died?"
I keep reminding myself that 40 is actually the new 30, and that plenty of people are still active and filled with vigor well into their 40s. And then I remember I haven't been vigorous in years, and break down into uncontrollable sobbing.
So I have to tell myself that with life expectancies today, 40 is only the halfway point of my life. Of course, this can be rather depressing in a "glass half empty" sort of way, so the whole sobbing thing starts all over.
Still, lots of people have been 40 without any complications: my parents, CNN's Larry King, and Methuselah were all 40 once. On my worst days, I feel about as old as Larry King.
My body has started making weird noises. My knees make crunchy, gravelly noises when I climb the stairs. I groan when I stand up too quickly. And I sort of grunt and sigh when I sit down.
Other weird sounds include "what's up with teenagers these days?" and "Hey! Who left this light on?!" I'm a little concerned about this last noise, because that's the sure sign I'm turning into my dad. When I was a kid, my dad was always hollering that someone - usually me - left my bedroom light on, so I had to stop whatever I was doing and shut it off.
What really has me worried though, was a recent involuntary snork I made while I was getting out of my car. In my defense, I only did it once, it was a very small snork, and it happened because something was caught in my throat. But still, it was a snork.
A snork is that deep-throated, mucus cleansing, roof-of-the-mouth-exfoliating noise that old men make. They make this noise whenever they wake up, use the bathroom, finish a meal, get out of the car, get into the car, leave a building, enter a building, or clear their throat.
I used to work for a guy who snorked every 90 seconds (I timed him once). He was only a few years older than me, so now I'm really starting to worry. Will my little snork lead to a non-stop cacophony of mucus-busting?
Every time I hear a snork, I just cringe, because it sounds absolutely disgusting. I can imagine the large glob of goo that a snorker has dislodged from his throat, and it makes me ill whenever one of them spits it out. (Of course, it's much worse when they don't.)
I know, I know, this is all part of getting older. Those of you who were 40 when car tailfins were popular are probably laughing at me and my imagined dread. You'll tell me the same old jokes about how I'll have more hair in my ears than on my head. You'll tell me your knees don't crunch so much as they make mushy noises, you've been railing against those dang teenagers and their "blasted music" for years, and snorking is now a second language to you. You'll tell me that 38-and-a-half is no big deal, and that I don't need to worry about anything, until the music I listened to in high school gets its own "Classic Rock" radio station.
Scoot over, guys. Me and my Egg McMuffin need to sit down.