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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.