My body is failing me.
It fails me every time I turn on the water to wash dishes. It fails me every time I pour a glass of iced tea. It’s not pretty.
I’m getting old.
It’s inevitable and happens to all of us. It doesn’t happen all of a sudden.
No, it’s more of a gradual thing, happening little by little over time, and during moments when you least expect it.
I remember the first time my body failed me.
I was 32. Young still. No gray hair. No hitch in my step.
I could still hit, drain threes and throw a baseball harder than just about anybody.
I never could run very fast though, but I could hit.
I had caved to pressure and agreed to play slow pitch softball.
Slow pitch softball is the worst sport ever invented. It’s what you get when you combine baseball and beer. The game was made for fat old men, and I was not a fat old man.
I’m standing at the plate and remembering how I used to hit in high school.
I see the pitch — I could see then too. The pitch is inside and I turn on it.
When you turn on something, and subsequently “hit it on the screw,” the following moment is one of surrealism.
It doesn’t feel like you even touched the ball, but it shoots off your bat like something was chasing it.
I drilled it ... like J.R. Ewing looking for oil. I’m thinking triple at least, maybe more.
Like I said, I was never the world’s fastest runner, but if you hit a baseball hard enough, and far enough, you don’t have to be.
And I just did.
I round first and head for second, and that’s when my body failed me. It failed me because I believed it wouldn’t.
I had faith in my legs — silly me.
On my way to first, my brain completes a countdown checklist.
How we doing?
Beating steady at 94 bpm, sir. We’re a little rusty but running is like riding a bike. We’re good here.
Lungs? How we doing?
A little short here, feeling the burn, but loving it.
Don’t forget the bad knee sir. I’m giving her all she’s got captain.
Keep giving legs. We need more. I’m thinking triple.
Legs — but sir, we don’t hit triples. We’re happy with doubles.
Brain — not this time.
And off for second I ran...
There is this thing called rigor mortis.
Rigor mortis has a friend, and his name is Charlie Horse.
Charlie wasn’t very nice to me that day. There was no warning - I would have slowed down. I should have listened, but I fell prey to vanity.
My legs said, we only hit doubles. But I got greedy.
And Charlie Horse grabbed my leg and tried to roll my foot up the back of my leg like the Wicked Witch of the East.
I also did not take another step.
I stopped — whammo! — right there ... about 15 feet shy of second base.
I watched as the outfielders chased down the baseball. I saw the glee in their eyes when they realized I had stopped running and would not be starting up again any time soon.
I cursed Mother Nature when some snot-nosed 25-year old with a bad tattoo and a T-shirt that said, “I’m the one your mother warned you about,” tagged me out and said, “Sorry grandpa.”
I regard these same legs now as I’m lying on the couch typing this.
For legs, these things make a great computer table.