'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
MID-LIFE CRISIS ALUMNI GAME
My younger brother called me the other day. He explained that the high school we attended had organized an alumni basketball game, and they wanted me to play. At the mere thought of getting out there and running around on a basketball court, one of my Achilles tendons almost snapped.
“Are they insane?” I replied. “I’m from the Class of 1975, not 1995. People my age don’t play basketball—unless we have a bunch of gift certificates for the local orthopedic surgery clinic.”
It’s been kind of a stressful month. A couple of weeks ago I went to bed feeling fine. When I woke up the next morning, my prostate was swollen, my hips ached, hair was sprouting from my ears at the rate of approximately 2 inches per hour, and I had a strong urge to buy a Buick Park Avenue.
“Happy birthday,” my wife said. “How does it feel to be 50?”
Oh, so that explains why I felt so strange. I may have developed an urge to drive a Buick, but I definitely have neither the urge nor the desire to play basketball. (Not to mention that I’m lacking in ability, too.)
I do appreciate, however, the fact that my alma mater invited me. At least somebody back home remembers the good ol’ days of high school, the days when I would race down the court, take off from the top of the key, and soar over a defender for a two-handed dunk. Oh wait, maybe I’m thinking about playing Nerf basketball in the living room, when I would soar over the dog and dunk through a hoop that was about six feet off the floor.
Either way, that popular saying is true: “The older I get, the better I was.”
Not counting my Nerf basketball exploits, I did put up some pretty impressive numbers during high school. I don’t want to brag, but even after more than 30 years, I still hold the school record for most career triple-singles. During that four-year period, spanning almost 100 games, I averaged per game: five points, five rebounds, and five fouls. Yes, you’re right, that’s quite a feat. Too bad back then they did not keep accurate game records for the category of errant passes. Otherwise, I’d surely have the record for most career quadruple-singles.
It’s been quite a while since those glory days. As I flip through my high school yearbook (“Hey Hon, where’re my reading glasses?”), fond memories wash over me: the satin Farrah Fawcett-style hot pants we used to wear as part of our uniform; the knee-high tube socks with multiple stripes; the Converse All-Star canvas sneakers, which had so little arch support my feet started to throb just looking at the photos; and those stylish Prince Valiant haircuts. We looked just like a women’s Roller Derby team, only not quite as muscular.
Now that I have officially hit the half-century mark—a fact those bums at AARP will not let me forget with their urgent offers in my mailbox each day—it might be an appropriate time for a mid-life crisis. But how should I express, in a dignified and subtle way, of course, the deep-seated panic welling up from within that my life is slipping away? A red Corvette? A face lift? A Harley-Davidson motorcycle? Dye my hair blond? Act like a 30-year-old by playing in an alumni basketball game, at least until they cart me off on a stretcher?
No, those options are either too expensive or too humiliating. I think I’ll just relax and act my age. “Hey Hon, where’re the keys to the Buick?”
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