In the great male tradition of “hold my beer and watch this,” a group of young guys who used to hang out together in the 1930s at White’s Garage up in Garrett County, Md., got hold of a propeller, which they bolted to — why not? — a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine.
Then they hammered on a frame, some tin fuselage and a rudder, put the whole contraption on skis and headed out to a frozen Deep Creek Lake.
Never mind what happened, the point is that I am 50 years old — half a century — and when I’m driving along and see a wide-open parking lot or something after a snow, I still get an almost primal urge to crank the wheel and floor it. It’s like one corner of my brain has never aged beyond 17.
I am right there in that garage with the fellows who see a flat expanse of snow and/or ice and immediately want to do something stupid. It’s not funny, it’s embarrassing. I can feel my muscles tense against the urge and I have to say to myself, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.”
Needless to say, I am left with questions: Are support groups available? Do any women feel this, or is it strictly a guy thing? And most importantly — and I need some 90-year-old men to weigh in on this — will these urges abate with age?
This is what has me most concerned, and other men my age have been no help. Curious, I asked a fellow 40-something last week after the snow if he ever had to fight off such urges.
No, he said, he never fought them off; he said he’d been out spinning around the parking lot at the mall the night before.
I subscribed to AARP, thinking it might have some advice. But the only doughnuts they talk about involve the holes in prescription drug coverage. That makes me fear that I’m approaching no-man’s land — too young to have stopped having foolish urges, but too old to succumb to them. It’s like the noise paradox I so often complain about; I can’t hear anything, but everything I can hear is too loud.
Maybe something’s broken inside the old bean, perhaps the switch that tells aging men not to spin car wheels or think that they might still look good in a pair of Jordache jeans, or, verily, even realize that Jordache jeans haven’t been cool since 1983.
Or maybe not. Maybe some 95-year-old males still want to spin out in snow-covered parking lots. Maybe some still do. Maybe, unknown to the masses, there are squads of geezer commandos who wear black ski masks and do things they did in school, like shaking up beer cans and throwing pumpkins out of third-story windows. (True story, the first three upperclassmen I met at Morgantown, W.Va., 1. told me their names, and 2. assured me they were NOT the ones responsible for rolling the bowling ball down the severe slope of Spruce Street the night before.)
This is the point where the “You’re only as young as you feel” crowd normally interjects a hearty huzzah, saying that doing youthful things is what keeps a person young. I don’t know about this; it hasn’t worked for Keith Richards. And for some reason, wanting to do young things only makes me feel older.
Which I do not necessarily view as a bad thing, you understand. If I feel old, there will be less guilt involved in sacking out on the couch with a good history book. Face it, feeling young is too much work. If you say that 50 is the new 30, good for you. I wish you luck. I’m going with 50 as the new 70. In 20 years, you can join me on the couch.