It’s no use denying it any longer: I am old.
I’d like to say it crept up on me and came as a complete surprise, but that wouldn’t be true (and I’m now too old to have time for lies). No, I walked right into it, loud and proud, and there is no one else to blame but my wife.
Yup, it’s all the Missus’ fault.
She’s the one who led me down this path to the Final Destination of aching backs, stiff limbs, and an inability to hear people clearly in a loud room.
She’s the one what done it.
You see, a few weeks ago the Missus had the ‘brilliant’ idea that turning off our electronics and going to bed at 9pm would be conducive to both our mental and physical health. That infamous ‘blue light’ emitted by LCD panels would stop disrupting our circadian rhythm and the over-the-top insanity and blatant stupidity of social media would stop riling us up and eating away at our peace of mind.
It seemed like a great idea at the time. Just because we were in bed at 9 didn’t mean we had to turn out the lights and go to sleep. Only ancient people go to sleep at 9pm, and I’m not there yet! No, we could do other things, such as read, meditate, converse, and re-center ourselves, all to recover from the day that had just passed.
In her defense, I wholeheartedly embraced this plan, blissfully unaware of the dire consequences that awaited me. 9pm? Phone is off. Tablet is dark. Teeth are brushed. And I am under the covers, holistically experiencing myself and the current book I’m reading until such time that I can’t keep my eyes open, and the book drops to the floor while I blindly reach out to turn off the bedside lamp.
The change this new routine introduced was remarkable. In the span of a few days, I went from a charming, avowed night owl to a bright-eyed, worm-catching early bird that is the envy of the murder of crows loitering around my front yard, eyeing me angrily as I deprive them of a food source.
It didn’t take long before I realized I was in trouble.
I had became my parents, who I can’t call after 8pm because they’re in bed by then. And my grandparents, who I rarely had occasion to call when they were alive but definitely, when I did call, did so before 8. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
And, you know, old.
Unfortunately, with this transition to old age came inevitable, soul-crushing wisdom. Wisdom that helpfully reminded me that I am mortal and felt compelled to continue by pointing out that old mortals are closer to death than young mortals. Knowing Death is now just around the corner had a moderately deleterious effect on my mental well-being.
In other words, it freaked me out and left me in a panic to find ways an old fogie such as myself could delay that inevitable intersection between myself and the Universal Adversary.
I started to exercise. Not in some vain attempt to improve my physique and impress the fairer sex. Oh no, those days are long gone.
I was exercising solely for my health.
So now when I involuntarily wake up at 5am every gorram morning, I check my pulse (yay, still not dead!), drag my wrinkly, sagging ass into the bathroom where I take all the anti-inflammatory medications needed to reduce the mobile island of pain my body has become to something closer to a tolerable, unending ache, followed by the anti-diarrhea pills that counter the side effects of the anti-inflammatories, get dressed, and then, and only then, submit myself to the dragging and pulling by a large, disgustingly youthful dog that wants to walk faster than I am capable of.
Actually, I do this twice. By evening, the pain of my morning exertions has faded enough that my fear of dying rises to the forefront again and I repeat the dreadful process. Except instead of starting by getting out of bed, in the evening I finish by getting into bed and the circle of hell life is complete.
I call these walks, but really, when you become a man of my advanced years, it’s more of a halting shuffle.
After a couple of weeks, I found I no longer had to force myself to hit the sheets at 9. Instead, I find that when this witching hour arrives, I’m genuinely exhausted and eager to retire. Sure, the anxiety that Death may come for me while I slumber colors my dreams, but it isn’t enough to keep my broken body awake.
Not that my night owl progeny respect this new schedule. Oh no. They don’t start stomping around and shouting at their computer games until 9:30, and they get progressively louder from there.
The Missus is almost as bad.
That’s right, the Missus. She’s not in bed with me at 9 as part of the routine she came up with. Oh no. She’s still up because it turns out the “screens off at 9” policy didn’t agree with her, she needs the blue light to combat some sort of vitamin deficiency, and apparently all the interesting news and social media posts happen late at night.
On other words, she decided to stay up late and remain young at heart.
Which only further cements my senior citizenship. Because of my altered and offset sleep schedule, I am now alone just like most other old people and, to add insult to injury, when I’m trying to sleep, annoyed by all the racket made by everyone else, just like most other old people.
I cry and wail myself to sleep because of the loneliness, but everyone else in house is making too much god damned noise to hear it.
It’s just not fair. Though I really shouldn’t be surprised. My diabolically loud offspring are just barely into the double-digits when it comes to their years on this Earth, and the Missus, well, she is 2 years younger than me.
I just have to be patient (and not croak over the next 24 months) and then she’ll be old too and at last I will have my revenge (and some company in the early morning hours).
Unless I’m ancient by then. If that happens, who knows when my schedule will overlap with those of the living.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some neighborhood crows milling about on my lawn that need yelling at.