When you're young and you stagger, your friends laugh. You collapse drunkenly into the street and after dancing around you they roll up your coat and jam it behind your head so you won't get gutter water in your ear. Now that everything's cool and you're comfortable, they hop in a cab to head to another club.
When you're old and you stagger, though, they take your arm and talk like you'd talk to your grandpa. "There, there," they say, "don't overexert yourself. We'll just go to the end of the block today, and maybe tomorrow we'll try to get all the way to the store."
When you're young and you do something slightly odd everybody takes it in stride. They think of excuses for you that don't include a stroke or Alzheimer's. When you're young, there's a whole world of excuses for weird stuff.
Somebody comes over while you're cleaning and they notice you're using oven cleaner on the bathroom floor. No problem. Maybe you don't have bathroom cleaner. Maybe you can't afford forty specialized cleaning products. Or maybe your bathroom floor is so fucking dirty it takes toxic chemicals to clean it.
Once you hit thirty, though, that grace period is over. All of a sudden every possible explanation is medical. Instead of wracking their brains, they're searching WebMD. "Maybe he's had a stroke," somebody says. "Does half of his face look like Grumpy Cat?"
You go on and on to your friends about how much you love Jenny Lewis. Such a talent, you say. Absolutely unbelievable, you say. I'm even starting to get a little crush. In fact, sometimes when I touch myself, I think about --
And then you notice everybody is staring at you weird.
What's their fuckin' problem? you wonder. Oh, wait -- I said Jenny Lewis, right? I didn't say Jerry Lewis?
If I'd done this a few years ago, everybody would have laughed and talked about brain farts and alcohol. But now everybody's screaming just in case I suddenly caught deafness to go with the Alzheimer's. They leap right back to basics. "WHAT'S YOUR NAME?" they yell at me. "HOW MANY FINGERS AM I HOLDING UP?"
Still, I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. I don't want to sound like some cheery Suzanne Somers sap, but there always is a bright side. The good news is, now I just have a grab onto a random parking meter and somebody'll run to get me juice and cookies. I just have to shiver a little to have somebody fetch my favorite sweater. Now if I could just figure out a way to get somebody to sort through my boxes of old Reader's Digest magazines and find that article on computers I know my favorite nephew would enjoy while I take a little nap.