I try hard not to be old – much harder than I should. I find myself second-guessing the things I say, how I carry myself, how I dress, etc. Should I? Probably not, but there are just so many things that I see people my age doing, and I just so badly don’t want to act like them.
If you are older, you can relate. Almost all of you reading this work out and take care of yourselves. You want to look good, and you probably want to look young or younger than you really are. I can’t be the only one who sees pictures on Facebook of people I went to school with and think, “When did they decide to throw their hands in the air and give up?” To them, that would sound a bit arrogant, but the reality is that a lot of people do just that – they just give up, accept their fate, and grow old, but more importantly, they ACT old.
I can’t do that. I won’t do that. I will fight for my youth as long as I have tren … oops, breath in my lungs.
Working out is a given. Though I started working out when I was young to look older, I now work out to hold onto my youth. The paradigm shifts if you do this shit long enough. Working out isn’t enough, though. I want to act young, and I want to dress young; I want to carry myself as youthful, though not because I have any need for 20-something dimes to notice to me. I just don’t go to those lengths, and I don’t fancy myself the type of guy waiting on a mid-life crisis. I didn’t wake up one day and feel like life was slipping away. I have always appreciated my life, my family, and the things I have accomplished. I have no desire to change much of anything I am doing right now. I just want to KEEP doing it and have fun doing it as I age.
I went to the Arnold this year, and though I have berated guys in the bodybuilding industry for a very long time about how they dress, I wasn’t about to show up looking like my friend, who was the valedictorian of our high school graduating class, wearing 25-year-old Levi jeans, white New Balance tennis shoes, and a solid-colored Hunt Club polo shirt. I decided to show up in what I have always referred to as over-priced douche jeans, a swinger shirt (a tight button-down with a pointed collar), and Brett FRYE shoes. I even had my Persol sunglasses JUST IN CASE the snow broke long enough for the sun to come out. It was Ohio; it didn’t. Still, I was prepared.
Unbeknownst to me, the bodybuilding community had moved on from fancy-pocket jeans and Affliction T-shirts (though this fashion faux pas can still be found in the industry), leaving me standing there, wondering how I could be so uncool that even the people in the bodybuilding industry were cooler than me. I was perplexed – almost bothered – that I had just dated myself yet again. I mean, apparently it is quite stressful to keep track of what you are supposed to wear to look cool and “young” when you aren’t young.
Upon realizing this, I begrudgingly went back to my hotel room and traded my over-priced jeans for Ralph Lauren cargo shorts. These are my favorite type of shorts and have been for years. I wear them 99 percent of the time — not just because I live in South Florida, either. I wore them in Colorado for years, as well. I figured, “They are Ralph Lauren, right? How uncool can something as timeless as Ralph Lauren be?” It’s not like I was wearing jorts, but apparently, I might as well have been because I found out they are uncool, too. WTF?
I have four kids – three girls and a boy. The girls are 26, 21, and 14. I group texted them from the hotel room that night, asking them about my clothes and if my jeans and shorts are uncool, and they said they like them.
I said, “That’s not what I asked.”
My youngest daughter, who is in high school, said – no shit – “I think they’re cool for people your age.”
Oh, no, you di’in’t.
For the next few weeks, I was quite bothered by my lack of fashion and the fact that I was apparently no more or less "cool" than the people I went to school with. It did not help that I turned 49 during these few weeks, as well. Just a little twist of the knife that my birthday had stabbed me with.
Then I had an epiphany of sorts (not the “Christ of the Gentiles” kind of epiphany, but more of an “intuitive grasp of reality” kind of epiphany – and, yes, that was plagiarized).
It occurred to me that I am quite comfortable in my old-man clothes – I LIKE THEM. My shorts are comfortable, unlike the tighter, skinny-jean of jeans that smash my old-man balls every time I sit down. If I wear a loose-fitting shirt, I can eat a meal and not look pregnant. I like that.
It also occurred to me that I am still young in the sense that I am in great shape because I take care of myself and because I am not looking for attention from the younger generation, anyway. Why would I give a shit what they think about how I dress? I don’t look dumpy, and I don’t look poor. I don’t look fat or out of shape, and my clothes fit me well. More importantly, I really AM 49 years old. Why fight this age thing and not embrace it?
Plus, let’s be honest here. Almost all fashion comes back around. Right now, Levis are back in style and so is rolling or “pegging” the bottom of your jeans. If I wait long enough, eventually I will be cool again without even knowing it – “cool” to a bunch of people who I don’t know or give a shit about.
I just really hope parachute pants and moon boots don’t come back around. Some things are better left in the past.