Today I turned forty six years old. And it concerns me that I am now on the slippery slope to fifty.
Turning forty phased me only slightly. Forty five did just a bit more. But now as I hit forty six, I realize that fifty is just around the corner.
In my head I am still twenty five.
In my head I can still chase down a grounder behind second base and do the spin to throw to first, landing on my butt afterwards. In my head I can still jump a chain link fence by simply placing my two hands on the crossbar and flipping my legs over like a gymnast. In my head, I can still swim the 200 meter butterfly with the final spring in the last quarter lap.
However the body is not as willing – in fact it downright refuses - to hold on to those same memories.
Many years ago, in a land far away – I hurt my knee. When I was nineteen years old I tore my ACL (the ligament that holds your knee steady) in my right knee. And after that operation, my knee still popped in and out on occasion. But I could still play ball and work out and what not. And I did on every occasion I could find.
Three years ago, playing in a company softball tournament, I hit a long ball that my twenty five year old brain convinced me that I could turn into a homerun. And as I was hauling my fat butt around second at full tilt, I came racing around third only to have my lovely wife - who was coaching third at the time - hold up her hands and scream "STAY – STAY!". I stuck out that right leg to stop – the knee warbled and popped out – and I went down like a sack of wet oatmeal. I rolled on the ground in pain and wiggled my way back to the third base bag and got my hand back before the tag.
But the knee would not pop back in. And results of the following MRI showed that not only had I re-damaged the ACL but the cartilage under the knee – shaped like a cup to hold the knee in place.
I still shudder when I think about it.
So I have not been as active since then as I would normally be. I've tried to play ball since then, but they usually insist on a substitute runner for me since.
Right now I am forty pounds overweight. I have to ask people if my belt matches my socks. They usually respond by being nice and saying its not important if the socks match.
So I am doing something about it.
In a couple of weeks, I will be getting my knee fixed. By the same surgeons who fix the Tigers, Red Wings, Lions, and Pistons. And they say that it should be close to good as new – if I live up to my end of the bargain of physiotherapy sessions.
And then I can run and play again. And I will drop these forty pounds.
And I will try to remember my real age. It's actually harder than ever now to forget.
Last night we finally got our Wii game box. If you're not familiar with the Wii, it's a video game unit where you actually use the controller like you would a golf club if playing the golf game, or a tennis racket, if playing tennis. You wing it and it tells the game box computer what motion you made. It's really quite remarkable.
And it lets me pretend that I am twenty five again, and playing baseball. I make the motion of swinging the bat, and the computer does the running for me. And while I am laid up the first couple of weeks, I will likely be playing the Wii a lot. Hitting line drives deep to left and stretching the doubles into triples. Or slamming the tennis ball cross court as I charge the net.
It's the perfect compromise between my willing mind and unwilling tired old body.
Because I'm forty six now.
And the slope to fifty looks treacherously slippery.