Oozing red sores took over for an itchy fortnight after the dermatologist shot nitrogen on my arm, part of the battle against the possibility of skin cancer. I had yet another reason, besides rising weight and disappearing hair, to be self-conscious about aging.
I wasn’t one to fear birthdays. Thirty came and went with a curious adventure up the 7 line in Queens, checking in on Ecuadorean, Irish, Filipino, Peruvian, Indian, Pakistani, Mexican and Spanish cafes, restaurants and bars up and down Roosevelt Avenue and its side streets, trains rattling overhead. I handled 40 by visiting my high-school buddy Brad out in the New Mexico desert, shooting off a Thompson machine gun and tossing an antique grenade. Fifty involved a babysitter, the Metropolitan Opera, and a hotel weekend in midtown Manhattan. Sixty came and went at home while fielding calls from my parents, who seemed to think I was still six.
But worries did linger from that time in my mid-thirties when I was teaching a writing class at Phoenicia Elementary. As I’ve written before, they targeted me as a balding overweight soul in wrinkled clothing whose long hair suggested someone unwilling to admit their advancing age. Ouch.
For years, parenting took the bite out of aging. Then my parents died. We started getting two and sometimes three AARP magazines each month. There were accompanying discounts.
Sure, my kid’s friends think we’re cool. But that hasn’t put a stop to how heavy I feel each evening as I climb my stairs to bed. I ain’t getting any younger.
Should I tie this to a game of snakes and ladders, or the makings of another non-fiction solipsistic memoir?
Better just to move on to the next day as un-self-consciously as I did when I was a kid. If I can.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.