Over the Hill

After a month of denial and lots of Advil and NicoDerm patches, the wife finally nags you into going and seeing the doctor. You wait in the waiting room next to an old man who looks like a walrus and smells like a dead whale. Then they call your name and you go wait in a smaller waiting room. And while you’re in there, your brain won’t stop thinking about how this is such a perfect metaphor for life – getting old while waiting in the waiting room. Finally, the doctor comes in and sticks a finger in your ass and draws some blood. You don’t understand how a finger in your ass has anything to do with the pain in your back but you comply. Quiet and obedient. That’s a good little whore.

Then a few weeks and 63 Advils later, you get the call: They still don’t know what’s wrong with your back but you have an enlarged prostate and high blood sugar. How often do you pee per day? The doctor strongly advises that you get on a strict diet. No carbs, no fats and of course no red meats. Oh and by the way: you should quit smoking if you haven’t already. I have, you tell him, but he already hung up. You call back and schedule your next appointment. Can I get a barium enema gluten free bagel please? Toasted? This is just the beginning, you think, as you bite into a wad of bitter spinach leaves.

And when your wife comes home that day and kisses you on the cheek, you notice that she doesn’t look you in the eyes before she does it. At least not the way she used to. So that night, you really turn on the charm and you even talk her into jerking you on the couch like the good old times and American Idol goes and goes and goes… and as suck in your stomach just so you can catch a glimpse of your cock in a hand other than your own, something isn’t right. Maybe its your back or maybe its the chronic sweating or maybe its her fishy grip on your fat flanked pecker. But suddenly it all feels very perfunctory. Like she’s doing it out of pity. You look at her. Her eyes are glued on the screen as her hand fulfills its spousal duties. She yawns and even though she covers her mouth, you lose the hard on. But that’s ok. Because she’s fast asleep and drooling on that couch. You study the lines in her face, the growing collection of skin tags under her chin, just for a moment, before you finally kiss her forehead and slowly pull your limp dick away from her weak wrinkly veiny hands and zip it up. And as you do, her face breaks into a smile mid-sleep. She is glad to be released from the duty of making you come. Christ, you think, as you rip off that itchy NicoDerm patch and stuff it into the empty beer bottle. I need sleep.

You start up the stairs. But you’re out of breath by the 6th. There’s not enough oxygen in this house. You’re not gonna make it. You look up – 9 more to go. And it might as well be 1000. Christ himself could not have suffered much more than you on that cross. At least he was young and death came quickly. It’s never felt like this before. You’ve never thought like this before. You stop mid-step. Catch your breath and finish the climb. Slowly. Very slowly. With every step the pain in your back radiates down down down your leg. You barely make it up. Barely make it in. Falling backwards onto the bed as you heave. Rapid, shallow gasps. There is now an uncontrollable wheeze in your breathing now, most definitely. Like an old dog crying when it can’t hold its bowels anymore, even though he knows better.

You lay there and focus on your breathing. Not moving the rest of your body at all. But no matter how still, there’s still the dull pain in the back. Goddamn it, you think. Goddamn it all to fuck. It’s too… But even your thoughts are out of breath. Sleep. Only sleep can revitalize this body. But the sleep doesn’t come easy anymore. Even though you’re tired. So tired. Because even though the eyes are closed, the back is still there. And now the prostate is there. And the black tarred lungs are there. And the blood sugar is swirling in the interstitial fluid knocking on the doors of the cells. “Hello?!  Heeeeelllooooooo?!  Anybody home?!  Alright guess we’re going to go storm the liver.” Oh and then there’s rest of it – all that  shit from before, from the first 40, from the good times – before the back and the lungs and the blood and the random bouts of diarrhea and the swollen joints and the rotator cuff injuries and the hemorrhoids and the kids and the wife and the ex-wife and the new boss and the girl that got away that you still think about from time to time. The one from long ago. So long ago. And what happened to re-learning how to play the piano again?

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