Biff America: The size of age
Special to the Daily
“The mind that is wise mourns less for what age takes away; than what it leaves behind.”
I was feeling pretty good about adding another digit to my years until someone ruined it by bringing out a tape measure.
The holidays are difficult around the old double-wide we call home. Between the 23rd of December and the 1st of January there are two national holidays and my mate, Jesus and I all have birthdays. So, you have the holiday stress, birthday melancholy, short days, coupled with a packed resort community with traffic moving at the speed of Cliven Bundy toward an NAACP rally.
It is hard not to get a little grossed out over the American-style consumption and commercialism of the season. Remember those old ads asking, “What do you give to the man who has everything?” Well obviously the answer is, “NOTHING!” Having been born in this country and enjoyed all the advantages that a middle-class upbringing provides, it is often difficult to give holiday gifts that actually make a difference in someone’s life. Certainly there are organizations and nonprofits that need our help and we try to comply, but most of my friends and family have two or more of everything.
Having no children and or nearby family, it would be difficult to recapture the magic of my own childhood Christmas. I remember a tree with gifts for the 10 of us — eight immediate family and two grandparents — and tearing into brightly wrapped presents both appreciated and needed. My parents’ would look both proud and tired, and it seemed every year my grandfather’s pants would be pulled higher and higher until they finally rested between his nipples and neck.
It helps to keep in mind that the holiday is, in its purest sense, a celebration of the birth of the Christ and all the joy and comfort he has brought to this planet. Wherever your spiritual beliefs lie, the Messiah’s message of love, charity and compassion is a worthy one.
But combating those fine intentions is the pressure to consume, coupled with inflated expectations. My mate and I try to resist those temptations with largesse, fellowship and whisky.
Compounding the usual stress brought on by resort crowds and the realization that my 2014 New Year’s resolution — to be less sarcastic and to floss — was fractured by early February, is the fact that during that same holiday season both my mate and I have birthdays and thus are a year closer to the great unknown.
I can honestly say I am more content now than I have ever been at any point in my life — or perhaps I have dementia. Wrinkles, aches and being forced to play soccer with my pectorals are a fair price to pay for the more enlightened perspective that a half dozen decades brings.
Working most of my life on TV and having a video record three decades long, I have a good idea of the toll time takes on a face. Luckily for me during my early years in front of the camera I had a lifestyle similar to Keith Richards’, which allowed me, for a few years, to actually improve with age. But then time, sun and gravity won out over clean living.
If we live long enough we all see and feel the result of the years. But with diet and exercise you can certainly fight back. I weigh myself every morning and my wife won’t let me eat anything that tastes good. So, with daily workouts and a diet of kale, beets, legumes and mouthwash I look fairly good for a guy of my years in dim lighting and with my clothes on — especially to those with glaucoma.
I was bragging about just that on New Year’s Eve. We were at a friend’s house; most of the guests were of our generation and more than a few had December birthdays. We were all commenting on another trip around the sun, the struggle to fight off aging and the grim reaper. I was bragging that I wear the same size pants that I did in high school when Louie said, “Your pants might be the same, but I bet the rest of you is shrinking.” To illustrate he went and borrowed a tape measure. Though I often weigh myself I haven’t measured myself in years. To my horror I have shrunk an inch — I cried foul and demanded a recount. There is an inch less of me (remember, I’m speaking height only). When did that happen and how long will it continue?
Then it dawned on me, if my pants/legs are the same yet the rest of me is dwindling, how long will it be till I get to the point where, like my granddad, my waistline approaches my nipples? But with a “look on the bright side” perspective, that new belt I received for my birthday will someday serve double duty as a necklace.
Jeffrey Bergeron, aka Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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