Friday, September 30, 2011

Being Boys

Boys never grow up. They do, however, grow old.

When not in the presence of a girl, boys of all ages are endlessly entertained and amused by poop stories and farts. They continue to exchange ‘your momma’ jokes with their buddies decades after they should have stopped. Really the only difference between an eight year old and a twenty-eight year old is the eight year old can’t buy his own video games yet.

Don’t believe me? I’m comfortably into my 30’s but in my department I’m the youngster, as my coworkers are all in their 40’s and 50’s. Just this week I busted out my atomic fart app (BOOM, iPhone!) at lunch and we giggled like school children all the way back to the office.

My wife still shoots me the same bewildered/disappointed ‘grow up’ look she did when we were seventeen. We call it her seminary look. We sat next to each other in seminary. I’d do things like read 1 Corinthians 13:34 for the opening devotional and hi five my buddy seated behind her before sitting down. The guys would laugh and the girls would get mad and I’d be quite proud of myself; that is until I caught a cold stare from the girl of my dreams (Neither of us are sure why she married me. I’m afraid to question it). Now I get that look for teaching our children that the Los Angeles Lakers are all criminals and would be in prison if they didn’t know how to play basketball (Again, I don’t question it).

There’s an old adage “You’re only as old as you feel”. Well that’s a lie because I feel I can relate to children and teenagers just as well today as I did when I was one. I don’t “feel” old, my joints and bones disagree. Getting out of bed in the morning is a symphony of cracks and pops; and not the good kind coming from a bowl of Rice Krispies.

I used to slam into people and the ground fifty times a day playing football and I’d pop right back up. Last week I hit the ground once during a rugby game and had serious concerns that my entire rib cage might have shattered from the inside. (For those over thirty, have you fallen recently? Try it and tell me how you feel.)

I used to be able to roll out of bed cold and play pickup basketball for hours. Now I’ve got to stretch for five minutes before going on a long walk.

I used to be out looking for something to do at 10:30 at night. Now if the phone rings after nine I worry somebody must be in jail or the hospital to be calling that late.

Here’s where the gap between my mentality and my reality get me in trouble. Occasionally I’ll run across a situation where either I believe I can still do something or I’m challenged by some young punk to prove I’ve still got it. Of course the mature thing to do is just let it go, but as we’ve established men and maturity are rarely simpatico.

Case in point: I was playing basketball with my nine year old son on our adjustable hoop in the front yard. We usually keep the rim at 8 ½ feet and on occasion, during our one on one games, I’ll show off my 6 inch vertical leap and dunk it (gotta show him whose boss). We decided that his jump shot had progressed to the point where raising the rim to 9 feet would be appropriate. He then commented “And also then you won’t be able to dunk.” Incredulously I replied “Pump the brakes there son, back in the day your old man could throw down. I can still get 9 feet.”

The ridiculous thing was not that I made such a claim or that I felt I had something to prove to my son. The most ridiculous part was that I actually believed I could do it. I’m 6’2 with my shoes on. I weigh two hundred and shut your mouth pounds. “Back in the day” when I could “throw down” was over ten years ago when I worked out or played basketball nearly every day.

There was no turning back though. I was committed. I stepped back, palmed the ball and sized up my objective. A shuffle of the feet and three bounds later I was ascending towards my goal with the ball at the end of my extended right arm. I got just high enough to slam the ball into the side of the rim. This sent a shockwave reverberating straight down my spine. Upon landing on the ground it felt as if a balloon had been inflated underneath my shoulder blade. Immediately I regretted the last 50 seconds of my life. The cherry on top of this crap Sundae was my son looking at me and saying, “Told you.”

I hung my head and went inside with more than just my pride hurting. I told my wife what I’d done and she looked at me and said, with all the patience and compassion you’d show a puppy that’d once again peed on the floor, “Why’d you do that?”

Because I’m a boy. That’s why.

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