I passed the mirror as I was about to take a shower this morning. And I saw something shiny. What in the world is that… a kernel of silver glitter from Max’s art project? I got closer to the mirror to investigate.
IT. WAS. NOT. GLITTER.
It was my first gray hair.
No, not the first gray hair on my head — that happened years ago.
It was worse. Must worse.
It was my first gray hair… down there.
I know. I was as shocked as you are.
When I turned 40 a few weeks ago people asked, “do you feel any different?” And I’d smile it off with a joke about 40 being the new 30, but the truth is, I do feel different. And not in the way I expected.
I thought 40 would mean I could slow down a bit and be less obsessed with my career and more focused on my role as Dad. I fantasized about my 40s being my best decade yet. Where I’m wiser…. more established and somewhat more financially sound. You know, settled, content, and more comfortable in my own skin. But my body didn’t get the memo.
I feel like the day I turned 40, my body suddenly started falling apart.
I now hear all kinds of weird cracks when I get on the floor to play Hot Wheels with Max. And when I read him books at bedtime I now have to hold small print at arm’s length to be able to see the words. Hair is starting to grow in weird places. Eating one hamburger makes me look like I’m four months pregnant (apparently my metabolism is slower than the Special Counsel’s investigation). The bags under my eyes have become way more pronounced — I’m starting to look like Michael Cohen. And then there’s the unending upper back pain from years of bad posture. It never bothered me before, but damn, it bothers me now. What is happening to me? And is it normal?
I read online that after puberty, 40s is the time you see the most changes in your body.” I barely recovered from puberty, and now I have to deal with this? I feel like being picked last in gym class all over again, only this time, instead of Mike Fishman making fun of me it’s my family doctor. “No more red meat. No more ice cream. No more pasta.” No more reason to go on! So if you need me, I’ll be up in the tree pecking on birdseed.
Even Max has picked up on my insta-aging. “Dada, you’re fat.” “Dada your hair is silver.” “Dada, can I have 18 more Oreos?” Why does he get to eat whatever he wants and stay a size 8? Life’s not fair!
And then there’s my arch nemesis at Max’s elementary school drop off. Another Dad who’s literally the most fit and fabulous-looking man alive. Every morning, he’s there to remind me what good genes — not to mention, good jeans — are supposed to look like. He’s my age. But he doesn’t seem to be suffering the same fate. Not an ounce of body fat. Perfectly chiseled body and face. And hair that does exactly what he wants it to, without looking like he’s done anything at all. Worst of all — he’s impossibly nice, witty and warm. Fuck him, with his perfectness. P.S. We have a play date scheduled for this weekend. Price check on Spanx, aisle one.
So what’s the point of this article? What does all this mean? Is it just a forum for me to angrily vent? No. It’s a warning to myself. Because if I write it down and release it to the public, it’ll feel more real. If I want to grow old and healthy with my husband and son, now’s the time for me to rethink my priorities. For starters, turning 40 means being more of a disciplined and health-conscious eater now than I was when I was younger (you, know 39).
It means being more grateful. I have to work on becoming more aware of all the good that’s in my life… and less envious of others (I’m talking to you, kid-drop-off-dad). I’ve got to learn to appreciate all that I have, because there are a lot of people that would switch places with me in a heartbeat. Speaking of, how fantastic would it be to switch lives, just for one day, with that super hot Queer Eye chef. I mean, wow. I digress.
And lastly, I have to learn not to ignore my body’s warning signs. I had gotten to the point where I thought I was invincible. And that proved to be untrue when I had my recent physical. The #1 killer of men in their 40s is heart disease. My doctor literally said to me, “just because you’re a size 32 on the outside doesn’t mean things are looking good on the inside.” #buzzkill
Here’s the thing, turning 40 doesn’t mean the fun stuff has to stop, but it does mean paying attention, seeing a doctor for nagging or unusual symptoms and taking advantage of important health screenings. Cholesterol, blood sugar and pressure, are the most important ones for guys our age. A low-fat diet along with regular exercise — 30 to 40 minutes three to five times a week — goes a long way toward keeping these problems at bay. And if not, I seriously give up.
I leave you with a few words of wisdom from Brad Pitt. “I loved turning 40. Your face kind of goes, and your body’s not quite the same, but you’ve earned it. You’ve earned things falling apart.”
Bitch, please. Brad has no idea what it’s like to be average and 40.
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