Jason Offutt: The legitimate concerns of 50-year-olds
Author’s note: For my faithful readers all these years, thank you. After 29 years, I’m retiring this column. Next week will be my last. I’m glad you were along for at least part of the ride.
There are a lot of things people worry about in their 20s; relationships, a career, pimples. By the time we hit 40, the worry surrounds our children, like how we’re going to pay for their braces, their insurance, their bail, and make sure they’re all in the car when we leave on vacation.
In our 50s, we realize these worries are stupid. We should have taken vacations without the kids anyway.
The real worrying kicks in sometime in our mid-50s when something like a discolored mole drags visions of death through our every waking moment. It seems as if everything we do from this point on requires a doctor.
Doctors tell us what we can eat, what we can drink, how much we should walk, how many triglycerides are in our blood and they make us get naked for examinations that involve our butt, such as hemorrhoids, the prostate and our colon.
In elementary school I learned a colon was punctuation that introduced a list. Geez, what kind of ridiculous education did I receive? And triglycerides? I always thought they were one of those unpronounceable words on the label of a cereal box, like riboflavin.
The problem with worrying about our health is that we’re not the only ones who worry. Doctors worry too. They worry so much they invite us to come around for a visit then stick a camera someplace we in no way want a camera. In any other situation, this would be called “inappropriate touching,” but for some reason in a hospital it’s called a “colonoscopy.”
A colonoscopy sounds like something at the county fair. Come on down and see the 4-H crafts, ride the Tilt-A-Whirl and go on our Colonoscopy Tour of Local Cuisine. See Sloppy Joes, Tater Tot Casserole and Ranch Dressing all in their natural environment.
It’s less fun than it sounds.
Much like the county fair, a colonoscopy is a two-day event. Day One is similar to a political hunger strike, except instead of protesting the British government unfairly dividing India’s electoral system, there’s all-you-can-drink clear liquids and bowls of Jell-O.
Day One is miserable unless the clear liquid is rum.
Day Two is less miserable simply because the doctor administers drugs to make the patient forget everything he did to them, which is roughly equivalent to being in one of those movies where the gray aliens give unwanted rectal exams.
This is what I worry about; Jell-O and gray aliens. Also, arthritis, heart arrhythmias, cancer, strokes, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, cataracts, ear hair and not looking cool while I drive down Main Street blasting 1970s heavy metal from our Ford Escape.
These are all legitimate concerns.
I often wonder what it would be like to be 55 years old and have nothing to worry about but work, pimples and children, especially their braces, car insurance, bail money, and, oh, the 5-year-old needs a ride to ballet and ...
Wait. That’s my life. And I have a colonoscopy scheduled for Tuesday.
Jason’s upcoming novel, “So You Had to Build a Time Machine,” is available for preorder at jasonoffutt.com.