Why didn't anyone warn us about ageing? Why are there no government health warnings about its dangers, or programmes to inoculate you against it? (although technically that would mean being rounded up on your 30th birthday and shot.)
It was but the vaguest of thoughts in my youth that, aesthetically at least, we'll likely peak around our Twenties, and slowly decline from then on, unless wrinkles and bad backs become a turn-on. But fuck it, what did I care? I was a kid.
Ageing is the elephant in society's room - certainly the one right now in my head. It hasn't quite been omitted from our cultural landscape, but spun into some exciting goal of one day 'enjoying our retirement', neatly sidestepping the fact that we'll all be so old and embittered by that point in a world we no longer understand, that we'll just lock ourselves indoors, complaining. (And yes, I'm aware that I do that now. Thank you.)
I'm fascinated by ageing in the same way I'm fascinated by North Korea. Both are evil and unstoppable. Both seem to exist in some kind of fun vacuum where it would be great to be free and live without a care in the world except, oh, you can't. Your only chance of getting on in both states, it would appear, is either suicide, which kinda defeats the original goal of wanting to live well, or just lying down and accepting your fate like a bitch - which is crap.
I do get the feeling that I'm not the first person to dislike ageing, though. The Greeks and Romans shared a particularly interesting myth, laden with ironic profundity. Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, was rather partial to human lovers, one of whom was the Pythonesque-named Tithonus, prince of Troy. Tithonus, being a mere mortal, was going to age and die like the rest of us so Aurora, wanting to be with her beau forever, asked Zeus to grant Tit immortality. Zeus did so, but here's the kicker ~ she forgot to ask for eternal youth, meaning Tithonus eternally aged, presumably becoming the greatest complainer of pesky children in the world whilst moaning about there being nothing good on TV anymore as he shrunk down to four foot three and a half.
So Aurora turned him into a grasshopper.
But the whole point about this post is that I want to complain, obviously.
So here we go...
* I used to have a bladder made of cement and lead, or so it seemed. It was one of those nonsensical male things I used to boast about, the ability to 'not need the toilet for a while', as if it were akin to being able to recite pi to 1,000 decimal places whilst juggling cats.
Now, not a night goes by when I don't find myself being awoken at 4am by a pathetic bladder made of jelly and lace.
* My knees are weak. Admittedly, they're 35 years old now, but I get the feeling they're in direct competition with my bladder for the 'Most Atrophying Part Of My Body' award. I want to go jogging and cycle to work again (in theory), but I'm beginning to think I may do myself some real damage. (Yes, that's right. I probably shouldn't exercise ever again, just to be on the safe side.)
* My metabolism's rubbish. I used to diet as a teenager and, provided I stuck to it for a couple of weeks, strange things would happen like weight loss.
Now, I can jog and diet and cycle and cry for a month and lose just a pound, off of my little finger. This is patently, patently shit.
* Hair grows where you don't want it, and doesn't where you do. Okay, I will put my hands up at this point and thank Zeus or Allah or Thor (or maybe my grandparents) that I still have the hair on my head. I have friends who I knew back when they were devil-may-care hippies, whose scalps now resemble ox-bow lakes of hair.
But the back of my neck, my shoulders and the backs of my arms, what the fuck is happening to me? This was not in the brochure.
* I'm developing a natural inclination to not go out. This is a mental shift that I'm rather amused by, as I used to be something of a 24-hour party person (or at least 14). I'm still proud of those occasional all-nighters in the last millennium, when I'd crash at 10 or 11am the following morning, feeling like my candles had been jolly well burnt at both ends. Now, the party scales have come weighing down in the opposite direction, to wit; A hangover used to be an irritating side-effect of a great night out. Now, the hangover has become the crippling STD that follows a shag, more powerful and unpleasant than any earlier fun.
This, IMHO, is partly due to ageing into a 'wuss', as our American cousins are wont to say, because age renders fun stuff less fun . There's something about the first time doing *anything* that is bloody magical, and fresh, and golden. Now try doing something for the first time on a night out in your mid-Thirties. Unless it's bungee jumping off the pub roof and into Beyonce's vagina, my guess is that any excitement you'll have now is down just to the company you keep and how painful your bladder isn't being on that particular evening.
Last night, for example, I was in excruciating bladder pain, and had to leave early. It was as if a line of barbed wire had been inserted into my urethra without my knowledge, only for it to be pulled on viciously in some invisible tug o'war. (I ended up sweating on the tube, and pissing behind a bush. Hell.)
And speaking of hell, I still appear to be passing solids through what can only be described as a brutal ring of fire. I'm doing my utmost to ignore it, but it's not easy pretending that forcing a cactus through a solid, bleeding onion ring isn't happening.
All of which prompts images of visits to doctors which, frankly, isn't a youthful pursuit. It's the stuff of ageing, and I really am terribly fucked off by it all. I can also see an awkward scenario arising, one that is essentially a balance of pain over pride. At the moment, my pride remains intact even though my arsehole isn't. Perhaps, one day, I will have to confront a very unpleasant scenario that isn't just completely alien to me, but totally and utterly wrong in every conceivable way. If time and All Bran hasn't remedied this situation, I will have to endure the very definition of vulnerable:
I will visit a doctor and, after just a few minutes of meeting him, will a) remove my undergarments, b) turn around, c) bend over, and d) allow this stranger to peer and prod at my anus with a glove.
That isn't my idea of a good night out. It is also, I submit, why ageing is bullshit.