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Aging supposed to be about attitude - R.H. Joseph

Baby went too far this time! She said those words no man wants to hear.

No, she didn't tell me another guy had stolen her affections. As unpleasant as this would be, once the clouds had parted a dash of rationalization combined with a soup?on of self-esteem would emphasize just how much she would regret such a mistake. (A minimum of self-reflection makes clear what a gem I truly am.)

And no, she didn't tell me the professional tennis player Amelie Mauresmo is suddenly looking particularly attractive. An eternal optimist, I would perceive this scenario as a "glass half full."

Surely the romantics and pessimists among you leap to your own varied conclusions but no, there's nothing wrong with her. She's neither succumbing to consumption n that's so 19th century and she's a 21st century kinda gal n nor has she fallen victim to systemic assault by some ignoble form of ravishment.

Aside from the psychological damage inflicted by those other two men in her life, Ben & Jerry, she's fit as a fiddle.

Therefore, in order to make clear the origins of my melancholy allow me to backtrack just a might.

There I was this past Sunday, adorned in naught but a pair of gym shorts. After more than a decade of girding myself for the inevitable I had begun an all-out assault upon those weed/plant things at the base of our apple tree that, despite relentless yearly trimming to the nub, had refused to die.

My tanned, Adonis-like body glistening with sweat in the noon-day sun, I was armed with those supreme manifestations of manliness, an axe and a shovel. It should have been as evident to you-know-who as it was to me that at that moment I defined studliness.

Sure, I was grunting a bit during the disinterment but the situation demanded it. These roots were more entrenched than a Japanese warrior in the Philippine mountains 20 years after the conclusion of the World War II. Besides (Just between the two of us.), these days it seems I make that much noise bending over to lace up my shoes.

Nevertheless, that's when she uttered those savaging words: "You're not as young as you used to be."

Oh, blackness! Oh, perfidy!!

That very day I had been feeling particularly good about myself. Despite my graying temples I read that small breasts are in this year and though mine are now somewhat larger than those of Kate Hudson, I was considering myself quite fashionable.

Admittedly, I have suffered the occasional setback. While shopping for a bathing suit the Little Ms. convinced me to try on one of those tiny jobs European guys wear. (It's no wonder the sagging old windbags in Congress hate the French.)

I pulled the thing on and was abruptly confronted with the sort of reality check that must have befallen Icarus as he approached that radiant celestial orb from which I derived the aforementioned golden hue.

To be specific, I couldn't see it; my stomach obscured what little fabric there was. What cruelty! What depths of despair!!

Nonplussed, I quickly drew upon that infinite capacity for rationalization of which I spoke and wrote the whole thing off to Gallic impertinence. Just because the French have given the world great writers, great visual artists, great composers, great philosophers, great cheese and great wine is no reason to assume they know anything at all about bathing suits.

As everything is couched in religious terms these days, might I suggest if God wanted me to wear this ludicrous afterthought his message was contained neither in the sign nor the portentous omen. Why, after a life spent beyond reproach, should I make myself the object of ridicule?

But I digress.

Later, during that Sunday that shall live in infamy, having showered and settled down on the couch, I was prepared to watch the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria. (It's a wonder those who look for proof of God never refer to the new computer recording devices that permit choice-based television viewing without commercial interruption. Maybe this irrefutable argument is trumped by their anti-choice proclivities.)

Anyhow, I popped on the headphones, turned 'em way up to get the full effect of super-sophisticated engines screaming at 19,000 rpm, and hit the "Play" button.

The race was dramatic. Ferrari hadn't been doing well in the beginning of the season and Michael Schumacher's bid to be the first six-time World Champion seemed to be slipping away.

Worse still, at one point, while in the pits refueling, there was a leak, an ignition, and four inches from his head a blazing inferno.

Michael didn't blink an eye. I am glad I woke up to see it.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.