In February of 2015 I turned 78 years old. About a year ago I began to suspect that I was suffering from an incurable disease. I went to a very expensive doctor, and, unhappily, he confirmed my suspicions. The doctor ran a few occult tests, looked me over thoroughly, wrinkled his brow in a professional way, left me alone for twenty minutes (he keeps his Ouija Board in a dark closet), returned and announced that I was indeed dying.
“You’re on the way out,” he said, “That’ll be one-hundred-twenty-five dollars.”
Why pay good bread to a guy who tells you you’re a terminal case? I purloined three current magazines from his outer office and split.
It all began when I was twenty-five or so. One day while shaving – I had not decided to grow my beard as yet – I noticed that I wasn’t as young as I had once been. It was disconcerting but I didn’t exactly break into a sweat or anything. In fact I didn’t really think about it for another five or so years.
At about thirty I took a good look at myself. I was definitely getting older. I looked different.
“You’re definitely getting older,” my wife told me that afternoon. “You look different.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said.
“Your hair’s getting thinner.”
“It is not. I’ve always had very fine hair. My hair is like corn silk. It’s always looked thin.”
She munched on a Payday candy bar and squinted her eyes. “Sure looks thinner. Looks real thin. As a matter of fact it looks almost bald.”
From then on I kept a close check. Was I getting older? Could it be happening to me? It seemed impossible. I had always been so young. I couldn’t really remember a time when I had been what you would call old.
Sure enough, I noticed I was getting older. Every day I was a day older and I looked a day older.
“Every day I’m a day older,” I announced to my wife, “and I look a day older.”
“You must be cracking up,” she said, and left it at that.
I got a day older every day for better than thirty years. Then I turned a perceptible difference in the process of aging. One morning I looked in the mirror and I was not just a day older than the previous day, I was two weeks older.
That’s when I knew. I had contacted galloping old age.
Ever since that day I have aged in large chunks. On a good day I’m only a week older. Other days I may be as much as a month older. One day I was something like three months older. I told my wife about it.
“You see,” I explained, “the way things are going I’m afraid I may wake up one of these mornings and be absolutely senile. Five years ago I told people how old I was. I looked so young they couldn’t believe it.”
“O.K., so now they believe it, already. Who do you think I am – Ponce de Leon?”
“I mean, I don’t mind being this age all that much, you understand. All right, so I’ve aged considerably. I admit it. I’ve lost lots of hair and picked up lots of wrinkles. I accept that. But enough’s enough, right? I mean if They’ll call everything to a halt right now, I’ll come to terms with what They’ve done to what once was a noble frame.”
She looked quizzical.
“But I’m afraid,” I continued, “that this is just the beginning. I think They mean business this time. I’ve got this crazy notion that I’m going to keep getting older until one day I die.”
She didn’t look as if she understood.
“But don’t you see, I can’t allow that. No, not at all. I’m all there is of me in the world. It would be a catastrophe if this were allowed to continue. From every point of view, you understand.”
“Why don’t you see a doctor?” my wife said to me.
“I already have. What I’m really saying is this: I am proposing a truce with the Powers-That-Be. If they agree to call a halt to this ludicrous business of my getting older all the time, I will sign a release that I no longer hold them responsible for what They’ve already done.”
“Let me know how it strikes Them,” replied my wife.
That was two days ago. Yesterday, the dentist pulled my upper teeth, the ophthalmologist outfitted me for tri-focals, and my eye-ear-nose specialist told me I would be needing a hearing aid within the year.
This morning my wife allowed as how she hated to see a grown man cry."