I’m so vain, I probably think this post is about me. Middle-age performs dark magic to a person’s psyche, especially someone like me who pays attention to their feelings and deals with an anxiety disorder. There are things you aren’t told about growing older that can bring you to your knees, especially when you’re naked in front of a mirror. Relax, there will be no selfies in the nasty gleam of a pudgy reflection. Even I have some dignity, not much, but some. But when I realized the shirt I wanted to wear to work this morning needed to be ironed, I set up the board, plugged in the appliance and walked upstairs to make sure 2 of my 3 daughters hadn’t fallen back asleep instead of getting ready for school. They weren’t greeted by Iron Man.
“Really? Can you put a shirt on? That’s unnecessary, ” Said the 17-year-old.
“I don’t need to see that. Go put a shirt on, you’re a dad,” dropped the 8-year-old.
They made valid points. Granted, they were probably just joking, seeing as how I require them to wear shirts in my presence, but the paranoia devil that lives on my left shoulder told me that it may be time to re-dedicate myself to the gym because flab and jiggle have replaced fab and wiggle.
I’ll be 43 in September. I have a real job (communications project manager), a side job (writing books and freelance online stuff), 3 kids, and a wife. You mix in cheerleading, judo, drums lessons, school events, birthday parties with cake and ice cream, and the need to drown my demons (not as much as I used to, and I use Diet Dr Pepper more than whiskey) and the calories add up. My teenager eats more than anyone I know and she’s barely over 100 pounds. My thirtysomething wife and I hate/envy/bemoan the player and her yoga pants wearing high metabolism game. I used to be like that. Around the age of 25 all those wings and beer caught up to me and by 30 I was an unhealthy forty pounds overweight mess. I spent my thirties working it off but as my family grew and I started writing again, something had to give. It was my gut.
I’m what the ancient Romans and contemporary French would call “average-looking.” I’m built like a Guinness beer can; short, stout, dark exterior and all of my weight is in my middle. I wish I could blame my lack of Bradley Cooper looks on my family but all of the men, save one cousin who has my build, are six-foot tall manly looking dudes. This is my late grandfather, whom I’m named after (my first name is Thomas, like his), when he hit the Army at age 19 to help win World War II as a scout.
Look at that tall, dark, handsome son of a gun. He looks like Johnny freakin’ Cash. When he got back from Europe he married a woman who looked like Marilyn Monroe. Why don’t I look like that? I mean, I have his sideways grin, love of fishing, and passion for Atlanta Braves baseball, but good grief that’s a heck of a fella.
I’m 5’8″ and I could pass for a pasta-addicted Italian shopkeeper in the old country who was 2-23 as a boxer and had to retire because my face was hamburger.
I should be more realistic. My wife is beautiful and so are my children. They are very comfortable with their looks. You should see each of them when they’re in sweatpants, first thing in the morning. They’re stunning.
How did I pull her and get those kids? I can tell you that blackmail and dark robot trickery are awesome. I do appreciate my 9-year-old (the child in the middle) covering up my midsection. I’d just eaten 37 chocolate oatmeal cookies.
I’m only superficial for myself. Looks fade and how someone is on the inside is indeed what’s important. I have a tendency to think all of my friends, family, and blog readers are model-perfect so if you need your ego boosted ask me how you look. But for myself, I’m not a fan of my “stuff”. This may be due to mental illness, middle-age crazy or it might just be that the pressure I put on myself to be the best I can be sometimes kicks my “need to run more” ass.
…I disgress. Oh yeah, writing as much as I do, especially publishing the first book and preparing a second, Italian Radio, out soon, has done wonders for me mentally but wrecked me physically. I’ve gained 20 pounds, killed my sleeping habits, and grown more gray hair than I care to show. Finding that hour and a half three to four times a week to exercise, before the writing kinda sorta took off, has become difficult. I know those beautiful people in that picture love me no matter what, but I need to find a place for my physical before it starts punching my mental until I’m down for the count.