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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aging, Like Life, Is Kinda Insidious, But It Beats The HELL Outta The Alternative

It happened yesterday. I didn’t start out being or feeling any differently, but then… LIFE happened.

While walking from Grand Central Station about 11 blocks into midtown, I felt this severe CRAMP in my left calf. It seized upon the muscle with such an intense vise-GRIP that I literally HAD to STOP, and stop immediately! I've always hated it when getting my-serious-tunnelvision-NYC-destination-stride on, then suddenly some fool just STOPS short in front of me and messes up my rhythm!

Never was a fan of those blatant rhythm blockers! Now, I was becoming ONE of those annoying people!

I told myself: ‘Shake it off, yo! This is embarrassing! Just keep walking, damn it! You have an appointment at 11. Let’s make it happen!’

So, I began to walk again, this time a little slower, and more tentative, to avoid the chance of that damn SEARING calf-pain thing recurring. Gradually I began to notice all these people (a couple of ‘em even had CANES!) just gliding by me. These people were not only, passing me, but leaving my slow azz deep in the Manhattan dust! WTF?

Truthfully, this bothered me a little. I can vividly recall being one of those physically-aggressive people who would often beat the subway by walking to my destination with a brisk long-legged stride. Where was THAT cat at? Suddenly, I WAS NOT THAT CAT anymore.

So, I make it to the appointment, a mere five minutes late, calf still feeling numb and uncooperative, but the rest of me was none the worse for the wear. We conduct our business. These were young professional people, handling things efficiently, and it was kinda cool. Although some nagging little thought in back of my head wondered: ‘How old is this person? They seem REALLY young. I wonder how long they’ve held this position, and just how much experience could they possibly have?

Admittedly, this was a straight up ageist attitude. Nothing peeved me more than being in my early 20s, fresh out of school and having to deal with the often patronizing attitude of people not thinking I was capable of doing my job; even questioning my age and experience. The nerve of those tiresome mofos! Hmmmm. Déjà vu all over again. Only, I didn’t say anything rude or ask any probing questions. It was just one of those mental convos I was having with myself.

So I leave the office, and head back to GCS. Though I’m moving a little slower, I’d like to think I'd retained some of my cool understated dance, and that my patented L.M. Ross swagger was still intact. But who the hell knows? Again, I’m noticing people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and ages passing me by.

Finally, I make it to the station. But dammit! I’d just MISSED my train! Maybe if I had been walking with more pep and energy, I woulda made it on time! Pissed at myself, I sat and waited aboard the next train which departed in a half-hour. I was virtually the only person sitting in my car. But I HAD to sit. Trust! Sitting was MUST. My leg was beginning cramp up and ache again.... and PAINFUL as it was, I didn’t wanna start crying out loud in agony, while in public. That woulda been tres uncool!

So, I’m chillin in a secluded seat in back of the train. Gradually it begins to fill with people. People of all sorts… a typical NY crowd. As the minutes count down to the train’s departure, the car gets so full that instead of sitting in the seat next to mine, people choose to stand rather than risk intruding upon my presence. Who was I Quasimoto? What was I, hideous? Grotesque? Or just black enough to be seen as dangerous? Ordinarily when that’s happened in the past, I actually liked the fact that I could stretch out and have my own space during the hour long ride home. Only, yesterday it kinda bothered me, and I can’t really understand why it did.

So, the conductor rolls thru the cars, collecting tickets. I notice he looks about 25, maybe. And then I lazily gazed ahead. The car was full of faces and everyone on that train appeared to be younger than me. Decades younger. Not school age. Full ADULTS! Only these adults were considerably younger than myself. Even the people who might APPEAR to be older than me were most probably YOUNGER than me. As you mature you can tell certain things about people, detect their age range by their posture, their graying domes, their body-weight and its distribution, the amount of fat under their chins, etc. So, I determined that I was the oldest person in that entire car of more than 60-75 people. That's a very sobering reality.

Suddenly... I’m ancient. Suddenly, I'm feeling very old and alone in NYC.

It was one of those Twilight Zone Moments: Witness... A young man boards a commuter train, and he ages, light years, before the trip expires...

I took out my notepad & scribbled the following thoughts:

When did this happen? When did I become OLDER than everyone else in the room, older than everyone else in my orbit, everyone I’d see, meet, or come in contact with during the course of a day? This strange phenom began to take flight when I realized a profound shift: the people on TV, in movies, people in the media, the reporters who delivered the news were suddenly all younger than my self. It wasn’t always this way, but it clearly is now. But Bigger than this: The people who run the government, the people who make the laws, the people who are in executive positions, the people who are technically, my bosses, are all younger than me.

I’m beginning to feel not only OLD, but invisible on this train! No one pays attention. Am I really here? Look at them all with their iPods tuning out the world around them! Hey, I’m hip too, yo! Hell, I have an iPod, and I coulda brought mine with me today, but I wanted to least appear professional! Self-involved people can be such a panic!

Where are those beautiful older-than-me gray-haired people???? Is there a special train just for them???

I stopped going to clubs a while back. The music was amped up waaay too LOUD! Most hip-hop bores me. I’d wonder: Where was the REAL MUSIC? I missed it. Club-life… it didn’t seem comfortable anymore. It actually felt a little silly inside my spirit to even BE there, and check it: I once was a cat who LOVED to dance, could dance my azz off, and was known for this… Now, I’m sitting here, leg HERTIN like Hades’, and still a little fatigued from a 22 block walk that would’ve taken me about 10-12 minutes in my prime.

I’m OLD, yo! Not getting! Done GOT OLD, yo! Time for me to even stop saying the word: “YO!”

And when I finally come out of this Twilight Zone Moment, will I hear Rod Serling's voice narrating this incident? Or will he be at the sliding doors to greet me in that eerie staccato voice? Suddenly, I realize even the reference to Rod Serling is a tad dated, old, about to become archaic.

Dammit! GET HIP, MAN!!!!

The conclusion of this entry is simple: Life doesn't care about what once was, nor what we've planned. And getting older is sometimes a bitch; a lonely, Twilight Zone-type bitch, but it still beats the hell out of the alternative.



Mizrepresent said...

lol, yes brother i too have experienced, and just recently. I have always felt i beat the "getting old" thing, bc noone i know or don't know percieve me as old and yet i know. I felt it this weekend when i went out to dance, to dance my azz off, to shake what my momma gave me and show all, old and young alike i still had it. It was great at first. Had a glorious time, but the next day i could use a walker to get around. True, if you don't use it, you lose it. Something to keep in mind as we grow wiser...not older. Great post!

Anonymous said...

"You don't look your age." That's what people tell me all the time. I feel great for the most part. But I wear reading glasses now. I have trochanteric bursitis. I'm feeling the age.

But keep your mind young, enjoy everything as if you just discovered it.

Val said...


Read these two posts. One is from the NY Times and written by John Edgar Wideman and the other written by my blog brother Daij.

You are not alone.

Jason said...

It seems the aches and pains that come with aging are inescapable.

I went to the roots reggae spot about a week ago and got my slow groove on. (RIP Cool Ruler!) The next day my knees and ankles were so stiff, I could barely walk. As the pain pulsated throughout my legs, I knew my skanking days were over.

Aging has provided me many gifts. Wisdom and patience to name a few. I am happy to be here and I take each day as it comes.

Thought-provoking as usual Brotha Pen!

Moanerplicity said...

@ Miz:

LMBAO! That's beyond hilarious, cuz I've done the EXACT same thing as you. Tryna prove sum'm to others by dancing like I was YOUNG new jack at the club, only it was my BACK, my damn lower back that paid the ultimate price! And yes, like you, all was cool that night, until that following day when I was down-near crippled!!!

I hate the way our bodies can betray us. It's almost cunning to get a DELAYED & mad PAINFUL reaction like that!

The good part is that WISDOM does indeed arrive as we age... even if it's the clowning kind of wisdom that whispers: "YO! BETTER SIT YOUR OLD AZZ DOWN, FOOL!" lol!

Thanks for sharing.


Moanerplicity said...

@ Windstorm:

Thanks for dropping by. I no longer place much stock into being told that 'I don't look my age.' It's a compliment, yes, but it's also shallow and empty. Feeling good, feeling strong, feeling healthy & pain-free is a much better alternative.



Moanerplicity said...

@ Val:

Thanks for the links. I'm a fan of Wildman's novels. He's a great writer w/ an interesting past. What he wrote in the Times article is something I've personally experienced since I was about 18. I've come to see it as just another nagging reality of living in a black male's skin.


Moanerplicity said...

@ Jason:

Tell me about it, bruh! I know you're much younger than I am, so your situation might be a result of non-activity... & as Miz states "if you don't use it, you lose it."

All this pain has made me realize that I seriously NEED to get my exercise on, even if it's just walking a few miles a week!


Daij said...

Very entertaining and so very relative! Lately I've been finding myself being the oldest in a crowd, and it bothers me. I don't run anymore because my knees ache.
And I don't go to clubs anymore, but not because the music is too loud. I love the heavy bass of music-i can't explain it, but, in my late 30s, I used to be in the mood to go out with my friends, then when I'm there I always wished I had stayed at home. Now, unless the woman I'd be seeing at the time wanted to go out, that would be the only way.

I have learned about age from my grandfather. He never allowed age to dictate what a 70 yr old is supposed to do. My mother, on the other hand, acts her age. She always acted older than she is. My grandfather used to call her 'grandma'. When I'm older, I want to be like my grandfather!

Moanerplicity said...

@ Daij:

Thanks for your input. I dig your grandfather's attitude. It's vurrr refreshing & well-worth adapting.

Re your mom: some people have a more mature character/spirit than the majority of others. Maybe they are born that way. I've been accused of being an 'old soul' since childhood.


Daij said...

By the way, I'm listening to your music on your blog. Any fan of Mc Coy Tyner is automatically cool in my book!

CareyCarey said...

Moan, if you don't stop writing my stories, we goona have to have a serious talk.

"WAR, what is it go for? Absolutely nothing"

Old ass back, legs, feet and ankles, what are they good for? Absolutely NOTHING! :-)

Man, I am reminded of a little church story in which a person asked God, why he didn't tell him that his time was near. God said he had been telling him for quite some time, but he just wasn't paying attention. He continued to tell the man that it was he that slowered his gate, and receded his hair line, and forced him to go to the dentist. He went on to tell the man that it was him tapping at his door when he couldn't remember how to do all the things he used to do, including dancing, and all the names of women he once slept with.

Moan, I have, however, found a few advantages of becoming old. Well, now I buy clothe for the fit, instead of the style. I mean, it's hard being cool while my gut is 10 times larger than my head. And, if I find myself in a place where I have to dance, I can just do any ol'kind of dance... because that's what old people do, and nobody cares. I don't have to worry about the latest hair style, I just wear it old school proud.

I don't even have to worry about walking down the wrong street with the wrong colors or the wrong hat. I get the old dude pass.

Finally, I don't have to worry about catching young chicks, because I know I can't catch them... literally, nor figuratively. *sigh*

Moanerplicity said...


Many of the things that affect me personally & I write about tend to be universal... & that's kinda comforting, b/c no matter our individual issues, we are NOT alone.

Wow! "The Old Dude Pass." For real? LOL! These are some GOOD tips, mane! I'm finding that Life is really about making readjustments & finessing compromises, mentally, physically & spiritually as we mature.

I'm just starting to make certain shifts in my thinking & lifestyle, which includes: choosing comfort over fashion, & not caring how COOL I might or might not seem to the outsider. But the dance thing is HARD to adjust to, b/c that always was one of my go-to talents! It's like telling an athlete he or she can no longer ball! It's emotional, yo!

I keep hearing about the concept of 'muscle memory' & how the body actually remembers the things we can do, could do or once did, & our muscles shift into that gear... but no one TOLD me that even our freaking MUSCLE MEMORY begins to atrophy! WTH?

Thanks for that comment, man. Methinks I'ma take it to heart!


Anonymous said...

Brother Lin: You'll be alright, boo! When age first catches us, we aren't expecting it and we feel a loss. But soon you will start feeling a gain of something better--wisdom!
I'm at the place of holding things at arms length just to read them. I need two sets of glasses--one for near and one for far because Im not ready for bifocals! Ha ha!

It's times like this when we realize that life is precious and that we need to live it to the full, not necessarily trying to regain youth, but learning what is important to us at our new stage of life.
Blessings, old man!

Moanerplicity said...

@ Sista Westsiiiide:

Greetings, Anna,

What you write has lots of truth. I didn't even BOTHER to mention the sight That started in my mid-30s.... Or the back thing, or the long-azz nose-hairs, or the stiffened fingers, etc, etc, etc. I know it may seem like I'm compaining, & I AM, partially. But I'm also a keen observer of things, & that includes what's going on w/ my physical being.

But, on the real: When I think of all the people I've lost who passed young & who never made to this age to complain or see a gray hair, or witness any of these tedious reminders that we're getting older, I realize, when it's all said & done, I'm truly Blessed!


Anonymous said...

You got the stiffened fingers thing? I got this one rogue finger that pop locks when it wonts to!
I am WISE, and that is good!!

Moanerplicity said...

Sista Ana:

OH LORT! This is getting a lil scurry! At least I'm not all alone in my maladies! (smiles) My stiffened finger thing just started happening this Spring. Worse of all, it's the MIDDLE FINGER of my left hand! No joke. It's just not as flexible as the other fingers anymore & early in the morning, I'll often awaken to it bent downward facing my palm, & unable to straighten unless I MANUALLY do it my damn-self. I'm thinking it might be a case of Carpal Tunnel. Just what every writer needs, right?

Wisdom, indeed.


BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Some folk I know in my age range resent being refered to as old,and try their hardest not to be seen as that.
I enjoy being seen as the old man,quiet as it is kept,most young people wish and hope for wisdom of a older person in their lives.
And the aches and pains of aging I too have many stories.
Good post and comments!

Reggie said...

Yesterday my wife told me that I was an old man. At the time I laughed, but later on....I put some thought into what she meant. When I tell people I'm 45 they seem to be surprised.......hell most days I feel 55.

I live in South Carolina now, but I lived in Jersey not that long ago. My wife used to drag me to the city constantly to go shopping and we walked everywhere, we rarely took the subway or a taxi. I noticed that the people on the subway that no one sat next too where usually either crazy or smelly.....or both.

I love to walk, but earlier this year when I was in the city, there was a monsoon going on and it was cold as hell was March I think or maybe early April. When I walk, I don't care if people pass me.....but they usually don't.

Whenever I get a cramp, I walk it off. But don't overdo it my brother, we're not as young as we used to be.

Moanerplicity said...

@ BigMac:

I think it's kinda sad when people reject who they are by pretending to be younger, hipper, more of what they preceive to be young. They end up looking ridic! Not a fan of self-delusion.

I don't consider myself to be an 'old man' yet. There's still way too much youth, ambition, drive, & do-it-fluid left inside me. I am, however, facing the naked fact that I can't be the same person I once was, physically. The human bones protest too much & energy level I once possessed is no longer there.

I guess, it's called the passage of time.

Thanks for your comment.


Moanerplicity said...

@ Reggie:

Sometimes when people close to us call us 'old', I'll wonder if it's done in jest, or based upon our attitude about a certain thing.

Since I don't dress unkempt, or look homeless, crazy in the eyes, or emit some foul odor, if people choose not to sit next to me, I consider that to be their own privately pathological issue.

45 is NOT, repeat, NOT old, yo! We're about the same age, & depending on the amount of exercise we get, the things we could once do w/ ease now begin to stress & fatigue us. Walking in NYC ain't no joke, man! I once did it daily & it was no problem. That was 3 years back. NOW these days, after a few blocks, I FEEL it in places that signal I need to get my azz to a gym! Quickly!

Thanks for stopping by.


Felicia Monique said...

Very real and true entry. I can so relate to those spasms that catch you off guard. For some reason, as we age, we tend to think that every physical ailment is because the number of years we've lived, walked on that ankle or wrote with that hand. It's okay though, because along with those aches, spasms, and pain comes wisdom, maturity, and beauty.

To us old-timers! =)

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

Dang Lin, you've made me come out of a self-imposed silence about this whole age thing. It caught up with me, what happened to the time? I now understand all the stuff my parents used to say and sum it up by it "wait until you get older". Hmph! Getting old wasn't in the plan, so I'm holding on to 39 for a while. I think we'll remain fly...although it may require some pharmaceutical support...hee hee :-)

Moanerplicity said...

@ Felicia:

True Dat! When something starts HOIT'N' like it never did before, AGE does usually become the culprit. And when we pay CLOSE attention to stuff & not just shrug it off, that's when we begin to realize that our bodies are slowly betraying us. (sigh)


Yay Wisdom!



Moanerplicity said...

@ Curvy:

LOL. "39" looks very good on you!
Meanwhile, while some claim that 'black don't crack', black ain't got nothin' to do w/ our muscles, joints, backs, feets, teefus, gray hairs, slowed reactions, or the condition of our internal organs!

Please let me know when you find that one magic' pharmaceutical' that stops the breakdown & deterioration of our physical selves, limb by limb, organ by organ!



JStar said... were emotional yesterday weren’t you...

I hope your cramping has ceased...

Ok, I look very young...Don’t look my age at all....and I still get the "young and incompetent" looks and comments and I have been in my field for 12 years...dag can I get some respect :)

Moanerplicity said...


Yes, the cramping has left. I've been a bit more... ummm... active since that fateful day. Emotional? Maybe I was a little... but it also came w/ a mix of embarrassment, awe, disbelief, & finally the realization that: I'm OLD, yo!

No. You definitely don't look your age, so you should count that as a Blessing! It's ALL ahead of ya!


Thanks for dropping by.


Chet said...

I agree aging certainly appears to beat the hell out of the alternative. After reading your post I had to laugh at myself because I remember when I first realized and accepted that my Black arse had gotten older.

Long gone are the days of making long hauls from one place to another, in fact the walks were replaced by bus rides or taxi. I must admit that back in the day I could dance all night @ Paradise Garage or any number of the other clubs , party and still go to work the following day without any complications. Now days I have to fight with myself just to do some of the most simple things.

It appears that you had yourself an "ole shyte moment!" Isn't it strange that suddenly we become the oldest person in our offices, on the bus, in the mall etc. Not that we're the elders it's just that everyone around us just appears to youthful.

Keep a youthful and fresh mind set and and the aging process will be far more tolerable and will delay the process.

Moanerplicity said...


I hear you, man. And yes, it was definitely one of those "Ole Shyte Moments!"

For those FORMER Hardcore Party People (like ourselves), the "complications" are numerous, & the LEGS are the first to go! (smiles)

It's very disconcerting to suddenly be the oldest person in the room. I've still haven't fully wrapped my head around that concept!

Thanks for commenting.