So yesterday I was DMing with a young journalist who told me he was in elementary school when my John Rocker piece ran in Sports Illustrated.
Aging is a trip, and until you start aging (which I define as clearing 35) you’re relatively unaware of its car crash-like impact on the mind and body. I actually remember being, oh, 19 … 20 … 22 … 24—and seeing “old” as this place waaaaaaay over there; a place that existed for others to gray and wrinkle and gradually fall apart. Aging was something that happened to my parents, my uncle, my grandparents. They were aging, but I was (in a weird way) forever cocooned in Young Land—a place where running never hurts the knees, where basketball never damns the lower back, where thoughts never slip the mind, where women are always hot and nights are always endless and drinks always easily digested.
Where funerals belonged to others.
Then I started to age.
You first notice by the way people address you. Suddenly, you’re ‘Mister’ and ‘Sir.’ I mean, I’d been ‘Mister’ and ‘Sir’ on occasion in my 20s, but the formalities would be dismissed with, “Bro, I’m 24. You don’t have to call me ‘Sir.’ Now, at 48 … I still don’t want to be Mister or Sir, but both feel appropriate. Even, at times, a bit (oy) comfortable.
Then you begin to realize you’re on the wrong side of the Young v. Old fence. At dinners. At parties. The Young are over there, by the grilled cheese and fries table, staring down at their phones. The Old are over here, remembering that game when Montana hit Taylor across the middle. You can try and jump over, but the fence is electric, and the result (even if successfully scaled) is inevitably weird and uncomfortable. The Young know you’re Old. The Old know you’re old. So no matter how many Doja Cat references you try and drop—well, your fate is sealed.
You’re here now, and no amount of plastic surgery or camo leggings or Tik Tok videos can change the harsh geography of your life.
The only solace: They’ll be here, too.
Even if they don’t see it.