I try not to feel old, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t help it anymore.
I’m 57 and a half, which is a really high number (especially when you add the fraction).
And having lived this long, I now have to make a choice about how I want to spend my remaining years.
Do I exercise and watch what I eat, or do I cease to give a rat’s arse and simply enjoy myself?
Four years ago I went for my annual physical and was told that my cholesterol levels were too high. If I couldn’t bring them down naturally, I’d need to take medication.
I wasn’t crazy about that plan.
I’m not much of a pill-popper, and I’d forget to take them, anyway.
So, the option was to “eat healthier,” and I was starting to think I needed to do that anyway because I had put on a lot of excess weight.
The weight gain bothered my not because of the spare tire around my stomach; I’m not a body snob. People come in all shapes and sizes and if you’re happy with how you look, that’s all that should matter.
However, my face couldn’t handle the expanded flesh. It’s cartoonishly round, and any extra weight alters my appearance dramatically.
In the early stages of weight gain I resemble a squirrel storing nuts, which is kinda cute in a Hanna-Barbera way.
But I knew I had to make a change when Mary and I went to a Yankees-Braves game and were accosted by one of those ambush photographers who takes your photo the minute to walk into the stadium.
When I saw my face in the picture, I looked like Elvis Presley.
And I’m not talking about the young, cool, handsome Elvis who took Natalie Wood on motorcycle rides and wowed her with his quivering lip, but the old, sweaty Elvis sitting on the Jungle Room john at Graceland.
Thus, I was inspired.
Not only did I start walking several miles each day, I ate the “right” foods. There was no bread, no cheese, no chocolate and no sweets, and since I was a vegetarian, meats were already out of the rotation.
By the time I went for my physical a year later, I had dropped nearly 40 pounds and my cholesterol was at a healthy level.
I had taken things too far.
True, I didn’t look like “Last Call Elvis” anymore, but instead I looked like an underfed Steve Buscemi, with slightly better teeth.
I was painfully thin, which caused my neck to wrinkle and make me appear much older than I actually was.
So, I decided maybe it was time to relax my diet a bit.
I started eating biscuits again and, damn, I had forgotten how good biscuits were.
And then instead of steering clear of the bakery at the local supermarket, I started spending some quality time there – at first, just sniffing.
But then I noticed that strawberry cake slices were there for the taking, as was sourdough bread.
And cinnamon rolls?
Yep … I dove into them like Jabba The Hut (assuming Jabba The Hut ate cinnamon rolls. If he didn’t, he was a dumbass).
I also discovered something called lemon squares. Other than lemons and graham crackers, I’m not entirely sure what they’re made of, but whatever it is, it’s sexy good.
Next thing you know I’ve put 20 pounds back on, and I like it because my face is somewhere between Elvis Presley and Steve Buscemi. I call it the Elvis Buscemi face, and I’m damn proud of it.
Sadly, though, my cholesterol has once again started to rise, which means if I want to avoid pills I have to start controlling my diet again.
And that leads me back to the beginning of this column.
At 57 and a half and happily married, I no longer have to go on dates or seek out mates, so perhaps I shouldn’t be overly concerned with my appearance.
And as for staying in tip-top shape, is there any real point anymore?
I’m pretty sure if a professional soccer team was interested in signing me, they’d have done so by now.
Hell, if I choose to sit on the futon all day and snack on Twinkies dipped in pure grain alcohol, I should get a pass, right?
On the other hand I do want to have quality of life in my “golden years,” so hopefully there’s a way I can make this Elvis Buscemi thing work.
To that end, I’ll now sign off, put on my walking shoes and try to put in at least three miles this morning.
But I’m not going to promise that later on I won’t eat a biscuit.
Or a cinnamon roll.
Or a lemon square.
Maybe just the lemon square.