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23 November 2010

Quite necessarily scatalogical.

I've become obsessed with my advancing age (apologies to any reader older than me) -- of milestones marking time's incessant march.  I am constantly musing that things are different now than they were.  Of course, there are all the physical reminders.  The left side of my tongue feels weird most of the time...because I burned it?  Flexing this muscle this certain way always hurts.  My knees are completely intolerant of abuse.  I have done these things to myself; I am mostly inactive, but occasionally and unpredictably I am active enough to hurt myself, to teach myself again the lesson that I should take it easy.  But these physical twinges, now that I've overcome -- at least temporarily -- the obsessive worry that they mean I'm dying, aren't as interesting as the changes I notice on occasion about the way I interact with the world.  Cognitively, I'm very much not the same as I was.  Which is obvious when you come right out and say it, but which is precisely the sort of thing I can get really going on about after a drink, and which I'm compelled to give an example of here.

I stepped in shit last night on the sidewalk.  I saw my footprint in it this morning; I parked right next to it and stepped right out of my Yaris into shit.  Old, rubbery shit.  I tracked it into my apartment, oblivious, and proceeded to microwave a frozen dinner.  When I began to smell it, I cursed the garbage in the kitchen, which probably contained some old chicken packaging or something.  I lifted the lid, breath held, sealed the bag, and took it outside.  Then I came back inside, ate my food, and sat down to play Halo: Reach.  I won more completely than I ever have or probably ever will again.

But all the while, I kept smelling poop.  Between games I would sniff suspiciously, moving around the apartment to try to locate the source of the odor.  Did something die in the wall?  God, it smells awful everywhere.  What the fuck?  And eventually, I did find something on the floor of the living room: an offensive little ball that, when I picked it up barehanded (what the fuck?), did indeed smell like and was in fact shit.

Here's how I know I'm older now: I still didn't put it together.  I blamed my brother, or one of his friends, who had clearly tracked it in the day before, when I was staying at Amy's place.  Can you believe these people? I wondered aloud.  Still, even with the decroded piece of crap spirited away, my apartment was uninhabitable.  It was like I could taste it (indeed, I spent much of today still feeling as though I could smell it, as though it had penetrated my very being the night before).  And I continued to play, my performance suffering at the hands of extreme distraction.  I lit candles.  I opened a window.  It never occurred to me to remove my shoes.

I didn't actually figure it out until this morning, when I put on the same pants I had taken off the night before (so what?), and crossed my left leg to put a sock on.  There was shit all over my jeans.  Of course there was -- I sit cross-legged when I play, left leg on top of right shit-smeared foot.  Only then, confronted by incontrovertible evidence and after at least 30 seconds of processing time, did I understand.

I am older because it just didn't occur to me that I could have stepped in shit.  I haven't stepped in shit in years.  I don't remember what it feels like.  My memory hadn't even been jogged by the unmistakeable smell.  I spent all day in an office, probably taking no more than 30 steps out of doors all day long.  When I was growing up, I stepped in shit just about every day.  Barefoot, often.  (We didn't name our childhood Wiffle Ball diamond "Dog Doo Field" because of a generous sponsorship by electronic typewriter magnate Wendell Dogdoo.)  There was a time when I would have known instantly that I had stepped in shit.  Those days are, for the most part, behind me.  Because I'm old now, you see.

Buster, our beloved groundskeeper, in front of home plate.

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