I used to play a card game with a kid I knew, and I called it 52 Pickup. I told him there were 52 cards in a standard deck of playing cards, then I asked him to hand me his deck of cards. I took the cards in one hand and bent them slightly backwards in my fingers as if I were preparing to shuffle. I then released the tension in my fingers, and the cards sprung out of my hand at him, landing all over the ground. I walked away, saying “now you get to pick them up.” The funny part is that he fell for the joke more than once.
Getting older means having a new perspective on things you once took for granted: your health, your brainpower, your balance. I have become unnaturally afraid of falling down and breaking bones. I had a fractured hip due to a car crash when I was 26, and I’m afraid it will break again someday. I actually think about falling every time I go down a flight of stairs. Maybe sometime soon I’ll start carrying the Life Alert thing with me (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) I’m somewhat joking, but it’s not very funny when older people fall outside and die of hypothermia because no one was there to help them.
When you’re young, you think that you will live for a very long time, because old people are so damn old. But as the years roll by, you realize you are closer to “old” than you are to “young”, and time is a one-way ticket on a bus to the future. People who talk about time travel always want to go back and be young and do things differently; no one wants to fast-forward to their old age. Middle-aged people don’t usually dream of skipping parts of their life and getting to the end any faster than necessary.
On my last birthday, I told my wife that if I fall down she might have to play 52 Pickup, except this time it would be picking up my 52-year-old ass off the floor. The funny part is that I had to show her what the original 52 Pickup was like, except she refused to pick up the cards. I guess the joke was on me this time.