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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 07.21.05
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Did I mention my old-man legs?

The first time I broke a tooth was when I was about seventeen. Some friends and I had managed to get some beer and had taken it to the woods.

(Attention children: I am in no way condoning this behaviour. It was entirely irresponsible of me and could potentially have led to a life of crime, debauchery, and chronic halitosis.)

These were the days before twist-off caps. If you didn't have an opener, one of the best ways to uncap beer bottles was to find a flat piece of metal, like the railing on a bridge, rest the lip of the cap on the flat edge, and give the top of the bottle a hard smack with the palm of your hand.

You ended up shattering the necks off the odd one, and the tell-tale bruises on your palm were a surefire way to raise suspicion back home. But it was totally worth it.

Unfortunately, on this particular occasion, in the middle of the woods, there were no bridges around. And no one had a lighter, that other all-purpose bottle-opener. So we set to work popping the caps with our teeth. I'd seen it done but had never tried. How hard could it be?

I jammed the bottle against my molars and yanked down hard. Crunch! There was either glass in my mouth or a piece of tooth. Either way, it wasn't good.

I spit out a piece of tooth and felt around my mouth with my tongue. I felt what seemed like a huge hole. I was distressed. But I think I did manage to get the cap off so, again, totally worth it.

The second time I broke a tooth was last week. I did it biting a fingernail.

Which brings me to my point: It really, really sucks getting old.

What's worse is that my body is starting to feel past its prime but in my mind I still feel young enough to get away with saying "sucks."

Here I am with body parts falling off under the strain of biting off other soft-tissue body parts, and in my head I can imagine myself doing tequila shots in some run-down bar and then challenging a biker named Chainsaw to a tree-climbing contest.

(Again, children, I am not endorsing such behaviour, which is stupid and wrong and likely to lead to a person doing jail time and/or voting Republican.)

But I know that if I were to spend a night doing tequila shots and climbing anything I would need three days bed-rest, interrupted only by a priest ready to administer Last Rites.

When did this happen? When did I get old? When did grunting become an integral part of getting up from a chair?

When did I become so comfortable asking my wife, "Does this spot look funny to you?"

When did gardening start to involve heavy breathing?

When did it start looking like I had two pairs of eyelids?

When did I start to run like that?

When did I start making bathroom visits at the exact same time EVERY SINGLE DAY?

And what the hell is THAT?

I'm still thin, but the other day I was in the shower (pause while reader creates mental image and overcomes terrible case of the willies) when I noticed I've got this little pot. It looks like I'm two months pregnant.

I had a vision of my dad (likewise skinny to this day) walking along the beach, his little belly peeking out over his too-skimpy swim trunks.

Good Lord! I'm trapped in my father's body!

I know I'm not saying anything new and really I don't expect any sympathy. Many reading this have long passed the midlife mark and make comparing ailments and prescriptions part of their daily conversational routine. I just don't feel I'm ready for this.

So what's the remedy?

Well, I could exercise more, eat better, take calcium so my teeth don't crack biting into a piece of tinned asparagus. But then, I've discovered one of the few upsides to getting older: the right to complain. It's actually kind of fun.

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