Elastic Waist Bands and Velcro Shoes

I’m not really one to celebrate my birthday. On the one hand, I find throwing a party simply because I managed to swim down the birth canal a little overly dramatic. It’s not like I had many options. It was August near the Texas coast and as much as my mom loves me, I suspect I had overstayed my welcome. Let’s face it–if we could get cable, a mini fridge, and a big screen tv and none of us would ever leave the comforts of our first home. There’s a reason women have to push during labor.

It would seem far more appropriate to give gifts to other people on our womb emancipation day. After all, sliding out of the tube was the easy part. Without that first swat on the backside, a quick bath, and a dose of milk, I’m not sure any of us would be around to celebrate any days much less an entire year of them. More importantly, these very same people kept us fed and clothed, helping us transition from elastic waist bands and velcro shoes to big boy clothes with buttons, snaps, and shoe laces.

On the other hand, birthdays do help remind us that we have traversed this veil of tears for yet another year. Perhaps, one might argue, we are simply celebrating our ability to be one year older (and deeper in debt). Like the rings of a tree, our age serves as a marker of our survival instincts and our willingness to keep pushing that proverbial boulder up the mountain.

I should also say I’m not obsessed with youth. I thank the heavens every single day I’m not 18 again worried about my hair, clothes, and whether that good looking girl smiled at me. Not getting invited to the cool kid’s party means I’ll get enough sleep tonight. Unlike my aunt, I haven’t had 25 thirty-ninth birthday parties.

But, I don’t really need a special day to remind me I’m getting older either. I can watch most music awards shows and realize I have no idea what anyone is saying and there’s not really anything sexy about twerking. (If you don’t know what twerking is you don’t need to count the candles to know you are older than me.) Clearly, my kids would tell me, I’m just too old to appreciate today’s entertainment world.

And, unfortunately, my body seems hell bent on reminding me daily that time is passing. It’s not just that the chocolate donut’s moment on my lips now equals a lifetime on my hips. All I have to do is think about cold pizza and coke for breakfast and I get sluggish and gain 2 pounds. When you get full every morning just taking your daily pills, you’ve definitely reached a certain age.

Part of the problem, of course, is that weight loss becomes a delicate balancing act between exercise and recovery. In my mind’s eye, I can still see myself running down the road, churning out that 7 minute mile, feeling the calories burn. I’m even smiling. Exercise was effortless. More importantly, the next day was always just another day. Run, rinse, and repeat.

Not so much anymore. The day after exercise I don’t have to worry about eating the donut because I’m too sore to lift the darn thing. I wouldn’t be able to run anyway. Somehow, the day after working out either my legs got longer or my shoe laces shorter. My quads are so tight, sitting down and standing up becomes a work out in both endurance and pain tolerance. Tying my shoes is an aerobic workout. I pull my pants up in stages.

But that’s okay because I’m slowly realizing that the surest sign of advancing age isn’t our loss of hearing, collapsing metabolism, or slow muscle recovery time: it’s our ability to rationalize the inevitable fashion choices that come with age. The difference between black and navy blue becomes a little less important and our clothes choices become far more functional. Five pairs of black slacks go with anything and that’s one less decision to make every day. Black socks do go with flip flops because those are the only socks I have and the flip flops were by the door.

Yes, kids, I am going to the store wearing these shorts. I’m not sure I’m in good enough shape to change into the ones that fit better.

And maybe it’s just my age and experience talking, but there’s not really anything wrong with elastic waist bands and velcro shoes, right? They worked just fine when I was little.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

6 Responses to Elastic Waist Bands and Velcro Shoes

  1. Eve says:

    Mom is probably happy she got a mention. However, the aunt who shall remain unnamed, but we all know who it is, may not appreciate you saying how old she is!

  2. Nick says:

    That’s what I love about your writing, John…I read, I laugh; I reflect on myself, frown… then laugh again! It’s only funny because it’s true, thanks for spreading a little truth today!!

  3. Turina says:

    Love this post, great way to describe a birthday! oh and happy birthday to all the people who helped you come into this world 😉 and to you for making it through another year!

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