There comes a time when you have to acknowledge, however reluctantly, that you've entered middle age. For me, that realization came at age 50, hitting me like a Giants defensive lineman in the Falcons' backfield.
Yes, I understand that 50 is the new 40. But if the average life expectancy these days is about 78 years, then even 40 is beyond half-way. Fifty is --well, I'm not even going to attempt that math.
Sure, I'm active and in pretty good health. I exercise, watch what I eat, and try to limit my exposure to second-hand smoke, UV rays and Kardashians. But even if I don't feel old, there are some sure signs that, at the very least, I'm no longer young:
My nose-hair trimmer's motor keeps burning out. You probably think I'm exaggerating, and I am, but only slightly. I have this little rotary trimmer gadget that my kids got me for Christmas a couple of years ago. (Come to think of it, that should have been my first tip-off.) When turned on, it makes a high-pitched, whirring sound -- that is, until I stick it up my nostril or into my ear canal. Then it sounds like an ancient lawnmower in high grass.
I have my own medical team. It took years for my wife to get me to start visiting our family doctor on a regular basis. The result? I now have six doctors, including a urologist and a nephrologist, which sounds vaguely like someone who does disgusting things with dead people but is actually a kidney specialist, or someone who does disgusting things with live people. And now that I've turned 50, I'm about to acquire yet another doctor, an astronologist, which I think is what they call someone who explores Uranus.
The only thing I take more of than pills is bathroom breaks. Here is some wisdom that I have gained the hard way, while sitting in Atlanta traffic with my knees squeezed tightly together: a man beyond the age of 45 should never, EVER get in a car for a trip that lasts more than 30 minutes without first visiting the men's room. That's because, a) no trip in Atlanta ever takes just 30 minutes, and b) the older you get, the more the urge to go will be triggered by the knowledge that there's nowhere to go.
I remember when "PE" stood for "physical education." It's abundantly clear what the media thinks of middle-aged men: we're fat, we're bald, and we have a difficult time ... well, you know. I would like to state for the record that this stereotype is largely inaccurate, at least in my case. I am neither fat nor bald.
OK, so I don't have any issues in that other area, either. But if I ever do, I'll know who to see about it: my uronephastronologist.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.