reid champagne napping

Growing pains

March 1, 2021

Photo Credit © Lovisa Photo

   At times I’ll be sitting in an almost perfect state of complete inactivity, and a sharp shooting pain will come out of nowhere. It could be the side of my head, a knee joint, thigh muscle, finger or toe, or my hair (I may be exaggerating that one). It’ll last a few seconds, and then be gone. It’s happened enough exactly the same way so that I don’t have to worry that it’s an indicator or a warning sign or anything like that. It really is a normal, everyday, random eruption of human-based kinesis, like a burp, knuckle crack or climate change. When we were young, they were known as growing pains, and were a good sign.

   Many of us associate various aches and pains with advancing age. I have lots of those. Those are the ones that come with trying to do something you have reached the age where you can no longer do it, like bending over, crossing your legs or reaching for the remote. In Bill Bryson’s The Body: A Guide For Occupants, he references “dysfunctional pain, which is pain without external stimulus and that causes no nerve damage or inflammation. It is pain without evident purpose.”

   These are the ones I’m talking about. They seem more like tests, like the way a smoke alarm beeps when it’s time to change the battery. I believe the sudden pains that come and go are our bodies’ way of confirming that everything’s still working and we are indeed alive.

Sometimes I’m so stiff after sitting for so long that I think that the musculature of my body thinks I’ve died. But instead of continuing on to rigor mortis, some sharp shooting pain will occur, proving I’m  still very much alive, and that my muscles should simply relax and let me rest.

   Sometimes I’m so stiff after sitting for so long that I think that the musculature of my body thinks I’ve died. But instead of continuing on to rigor mortis, some sharp shooting pain will occur, proving I’m  still very much alive, and that my muscles should simply relax and let me rest.

   Some (Carol) would argue that I rest too much on the couch. However, I’m being shrewd in storing up vast amounts of rest preemptively against those times of injury and sickness, when every doctor will tell you to, “get plenty of rest.” (“It’s okay, Doc, I’ve got plenty already stored up.”)  All I really need is for one of those sharp, shooting pains to occur, and I know I’m still in fine shape and set for another Netflix binge.

   All this is by way of saying I think I’m totally adjusted for entering (what everybody but us) calls old age. I’m just not talking about Social Security and Medicare, both of which have been great so far (sorry Millennials, but I think we’re breaking the bank before you get here), nor about the plethora of senior discounts. But all the everyday things that people will defer to you, simply because they think you’re decrepit, such as not asking for ID anymore when ordering alcohol.

   There was this time Carol and I were standing, waiting for a table (it was first come, first serve) in a crowded restaurant before a concert. All of a sudden, a guy approached us and said we’d been standing long enough, and his party was holding their table specifically for us. It was grand to be picked out of a crowd as being too old to be standing for so long. If we’d’ve been in our forties, we’d never have gotten a table.

   I don’t feel old. That’s far more important to me. Who cares if I look old? It’s how I get special treatment from total strangers. I’m never going to see them again anyway. Plus it’s great to be thought of as too old for things like zip lining or remaining at parties past nine o’clock. (I’ve learned 8:30 doesn’t work as well.)

   All I need to feel is that sudden, random pain that dissipates, and I know I’m still alive. You know, growing pains.

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