Reality can sometimes slap you in the face


There are times when acceptance of an inevitable truth comes to one slowly — a steady progression of experiences that leads to an unmistakeable reality that something has indeed happened.

This can happen with people’s finances, for example, as they slowly watch their balance trickle away as the money going out seems to be a little bit more than the money coming in, and you can see the writing on the wall that basic mathematics is eventually going to kick you in the can.

There are other moments of clarity, however, that jump right out at you. There might have been some subtle clues along the way that something was indeed heading your way, but it takes one significant episode to truly trip your mind into the realization that you are now experiencing a brand new truth.

For instance, the father who sees his daughter enter the room with her hair made up and her prom dress on might just curl up in the fetal position and suck his thumb as the stark reality that his little girl is growing up hits him in the face like a frying pan. Or, as another example, when I walked into the Coastal Point multiplex the other day and stopped dead in my tracks staring at the steps I had to ascend to reach my office. The truth hit me like a frying pan being swung by a pendulum system crafted out of titanium and lead.

I’m getting old. And incredibly out of shape. And my knee sometimes feels like it was crafted out of ball bearings, shaved glass and packing peanuts. You know, there was a time when I would wake up in the morning, grab a bottle of juice out of the fridge and go running a few miles or hit the gym.

Now I get out of bed in the morning, spend an inordinate amount of time scratching things that didn’t used to need quite as much attention and moan and groan my way into the bathroom with high hopes, but low expectations.

See what I mean? All the warning signs have been out there for me to see, but it took that ominous look at a single flight of stairs for me to accept that Father Time is beginning to punish me. I fear his next step will be taking away my car keys or giving me a guilt trip about how his expectations were so high for me, but I constantly underachieve and have been a huge disappointment to him for years, so it’s for my own good that ...

But I digress.

The fact of the matter is I’m now fully aware that my odomoter is creeping up there pretty quickly, even though the signs have been there for a while. I no longer know what songs or musicians are popular because, well, I no longer listen to what’s popular. I remember going out with my friends in 1985 to see U2 in concert and thinking I was just about the hippest cat in town. Now I’d still like to go see U2 perform live, but I fear the audience would just be filled with balding guys with spare tires saying things like “hippest” or “cat.”

I used to stay out all night drinking whiskey and causing general mayhem. Now if I’m up late, it’s because there’s a “Monk” marathon on USA, and I’m drinking bottled water because my heartburn is keeping me awake. Mornings used to often consist of me grabbing a handful of aspirin, grabbing a two-minute shower and rushing out the door to get to work. Now I’m popping allergy pills and taking lengthy showers before I flip on the Weather Channel for a few minutes before heading into the office.

I got to work early on Wednesday and started reading headlines on news sites while I drank my coffee. One announced that it was “Social Media Day.” My first thought was Brian Williams walking around a crowded room and shaking hands, not people having “Tweet-ups” and spreading the word on Facebook.

How did this happen?

Fourth of July used to mean fireworks, barbecues and cold beers outside with friends. Now I’m trying to figure out which channel to watch the celebrations on because the fireworks just hurt my ears and hot dogs give me gas.