The idea of aging used to
terrify me. America, young, randy and so fashionably decadent, worships youth.
Coming up on 40, I became so neurotic about not having achieved any level of
what could be termed "worldly success" whatsoever that I actually
took to consulting a shrink for a while, a fruitless endeavor for anyone at
any age and particularly unseemly for a man approaching middle age. I made an
effort to quit drinking in a moment of existential despair and pointless fear
of my own mortality.
Now, at 46, rapidly approaching
47, I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I fired my shrink
three years ago when the incompetent bitch tried to persuade my now ex-wife
to have me committed. I persuaded the wife to leave through the judicious application
of several forms of nonviolent abuse. I not only ceased my absurd effort to
quit drinking, but I upped the ante by reverting to the sort of substance abuse
pattern I enjoyed as a teenager. I learned how to drive. Life is an endless
ribbon of highway leading to ever-increasing novelty and adventure.
The most noticeable improvement
that comes as a man approaches 50 is confidence. Not to be mistaken for the
youthful arrogance of, say, the twentysomething dot-com lemmings or the detestable
MTV creatures, this is the easygoing, dockside confidence of the gentleman loser.
Humphrey Bogart probably did it best, and there’s been no credible effort
to fill the hole he left in the archetypal landscape of American culture. Face
it, if you haven’t done it by 45, you probably won’t. It’s a
relaxing posture. I still have ambitions, but they are realistic and scaled
to what I know I can achieve. As Dirty Harry said in Magnum Force, "A
man’s got to know his limitations."
Getting laid is a lot easier
now. Men tend to age well, if they make the slightest effort to stay in shape.
It’s come to my attention that women between the ages of 25 and 40 generally
aren’t worth the effort it takes to get my trousers off. Under 25, they
still have a sense of adventure and reckless abandon, and over 40, most have
come to their senses and begun to realize that the Masters of the Universe are
a pack of loathsome controlling shits and the pool guy is invariably a better
lover with a healthier prostate and outlook. I no longer pander to feminists.
Feminism is a fine philosophy for a lesbian. It tends to turn heterosexual women
into frustrated, conflicted basket cases, forever juggling the desperate need
to achieve with the biological imperative of the Mommy Track and the need for
some awful Alpha Male to build a nest with.
I didn’t really appreciate
Nietzsche before, or Jimmy Buffett. Suddenly, it all makes sense. I no longer
run to catch trains. I am nearly invisible to the cops. For one thing, most
of the cops I meet on the street are young enough to be my bastard children.
Another big point here is that middle-aged men are generally perceived as safe
so long as they are reasonably well-groomed and well-spoken.
If you do what you enjoy
for a long enough period of time, eventually someone will pay you to do it.
I am blessed with a modest but sufficient income by virtue of my capacity to
deliver a good rant on command, something I’ve been refining since I learned
how to speak. I’ve been hard at work developing my capacity to insult and
offend, and I can insult people from many cultures in their own heathen tongues
as a result. I have no racial guilt whatsoever and am now quite comfortable
with hurling the most vicious forms of verbal abuse at persons young and old
who wander into my sights.
Most people are okay. My
misanthropy has settled considerably now that I’ve passed through my angst-ridden
30s. When I was 39 I wanted to destroy the world; nowadays, it hardly seems
worth the effort and besides, it’s doing a wonderful job on its own. Not
having any children, I really don’t give two shits about the future, which
has removed a huge load of bogus, self-inflicted anxiety from my ass. I used
to get all uptight about the environment and various other political issues,
like war. Honestly, at this point, all I really care about is novelty and making
sure I have ringside seats for whatever awful spectacle is about to unfold.
Learning to drive at age
43 was a terrific choice. Driving in the city is great fun; it’s like a
video game. It’s a good idea to keep trying and learning new things, and
I never understood the appeal of the automobile before. I intend to learn French
and calculus before I hit 50.
It’s very easy to frighten
street thugs now. I used to be intimidated by the various obnoxious miscreants
who pester people in the streets and subways, but now very few of them have
the nerve to approach me, and I greet the few who do very warmly just before
I casually unleash some unbelievably frightening non-sequitur that invariably
drives them away.
I’m looking forward
to actual old age, to becoming a "senior citizen." I intend to carry
a combat-modified Colt .45 in a shoulder holster and wear suits: tweeds in the
winter, seersuckers in the summer. A 65-year-old man with no priors isn’t
going to get any trouble from John Law in the year 2019, and it might be fun
to plink at the various cyborgs and robots that will be gallivanting around
town leaking hydraulic fluids over nearly everything and panhandling, trying
to make the rest of us feel guilty for having actual DNA-based skin.
The future is bright and
shiny and filled with exhilarating adventures. Youth worship is over. Welcome
to the Age of the Old Fart at Play.