My Right Foot 3: The Limpenproletariat

We left up the Christmas tree and lights until late January. There was no particular reason for this, certainly no great yearning to keep the holidays going for as long as possible. The season was over when we ran out of eggnog. The decorations staying up were an artifact fueled by procrastination.

Still, the lights did serve a purpose. I am an old man and as such, I have to get up and pee at least a couple of times per night. The glow from the living room and the doorway to the bedroom lights the path so I don’t trip over a shoe or some other hazard.

This matters now. There was a time when it didn’t. Countless nights I would come home cross-eyed drunk, attempt to take off my jeans over my boots, and end up sprawled on the floor like a human swastika. Other than the hangover, no harm came to me from these misadventures. That was before last August when a simple stumble, and a sober one at that, ruptured my Achilles tendon and left me immobilized for months.

I’m not saying that tripping and falling will result in the same injury. It probably won’t. What I do know is that a rupture is more likely to happen where it has happened before. Since it has happened before, I get a little worried.

That’s the thing about getting old. Things start to go south physically and mentally and if you do recover, it isn’t 100 percent. I’ve been doing my physical therapy exercises for months and the results are beginning to plateau. My limp may disappear entirely. Then again, it may not. I’m just happy that I can walk at all and I do not want to mess that up by tripping and falling on the way to the can.

If I’m careful, I may be able to avoid that. As for all the other bad things that can happen, I’m not so sure. I could drop dead from a heart attack, but that seems unlikely. Given past misbehaviors, my ticker is in far better shape than I deserve. Cancer is more likely. It did kill my dad and I used to smoke like a chimney. Even as we speak, an invasion force of malignancies could be establishing beachheads in my lungs, pancreas, and prostate.

My brain could also turn to mush. Despite my repeated efforts to drown it in booze, I kind of like having a functioning noggin. My intellect has not produced any great ideas, but it has allowed me to reap the benefits of high-functioning mediocrity for most of my adult life. It would be a shame to have that go away and end up housebound and dementia-addled, doomed to spend my days hooting like a gibbon while thumbing it into a Hot Pocket.

So yeah, aging fucks you up, but I don’t need to tell you that. One need only look at Annette Bening steadily transforming into Elizabeth Warren to understand the ravages of time. And for the most part, I’m willing to accept my eventual decline. The problem arises if my privileged corner of the world stops tolerating the old and infirm.

I’ve always been obsessed with living through the end times. I’m not talking in the biblical sense. I am an atheist so I put little stock in what’s in the Book of Revelation even if I could make heads or tails of it. My apocalypses are decidedly secular: thermonuclear war, brain-eating zombies. and rapacious plutocrats who have decided that owning almost everything isn’t good enough.

Any one of these would have a detrimental effect on my Social Security and Medicare. I would have to reenter the workforce and whether my job is burning bodies in open pits or being a greeter at Walmart, I doubt I’m up to the task. I can barely handle doing nothing at all.