There are many mental barometers of approaching middle age. For instance, you may find yourself frequently launching into boring monologues on the deplorable state of popular music. Or maybe the sight of a pair of saggy pants incites a rant on the irresponsibility of today’s youth.
Then there are the more insidious medical indicators of your inevitable downhill slide. You go to the doctor with an ache here, a pain there. Everything goes pretty much the way it always has: the stethoscope is still cold, that funny little hammer still makes your leg jump. But then he does something different. Snapping on a glove, he tells you to drop your drawers. You’re thinking, hell no. It’s not happening. But he’s done this kind of thing before, and he finds your prostate right where he expects it. He’s telling you everything is good and you’re still standing there with your pants around your ankles wondering when he’s going to get to it.
And then, for awhile, you’ve noticed that the TV is looking a little blurry. Football season is fast approaching, and this just won’t do. You go to the optometrist. He tells you to read the 7th line. It’s a joke, you think, because who reads hieroglyphics these days? After it’s all over, he gives you the bad news: you need glasses.
“Really?” you ask.
“Yes,” the doctor says. “You’re at that age.”
“Mid forties,” he says, smiling patiently.
“Will it get any better?”
“Nope,” he says.
In spite of your youthful delusions of immortality, you start thinking maybe you will actually die someday. It’s a sobering realization, and you would think that the powers that be would consider you sufficiently enlightened. Another event looms, however, that will erase any doubts of your approaching decline. It involves bright lights and hazy recollections, coupled with an invasive probing that makes your prostate exam seem as benign as a tap on the knee.
Yes, I am talking about the dreaded colonoscopy.
You don’t just waltz into the doctor’s office and get a camera up your ass. For obvious reasons, you have to fast the day before. For one day you subsist on a liquid diet of colon blow and jello, with a little chicken broth for variety. Eventually you’re lying on a table wearing a backless gown. Someone is standing in front of strange blinking machinery. A nurse hovers, moving an IV into place.
“This is an amnesia drug,” says the nurse.
“So you don’t remember anything.”
“Ah,” you say.
You lie there trying to envision things you might not want to remember as the doctor walks in. He works the room, hi how are ya, is everybody going to my barbecue this weekend? The chit chat moves along these lines as you drift off. The last thing you remember is the doctor getting comfortable in front of you.
“Let’s get started,” says the doctor.
“Everything looks great,” says the doctor.
You blink. Huh? Because it’s over, just like that. Where’s the trauma?
So, to recap, popular music sucks, saggy pants irritate you, your prostate has been fondled, you are slowly going blind, and a complete stranger has explored your colon with a camera.
Wake up and smell the ben gay, cupcake. You are officially middle aged. And get the hell off of my lawn.