Saturday morning, April 15, 2017.
Valley Forge. Parked in the lot next to Von Steuben’s statue, finishing my coffee while making up my mind which direction I’ll be setting out for a walk. The lot seems full of joggers, power walkers, bikers packing it in. I’m here late, 8:30, and they’re all done with their runs, walks, rides, having been out here for a couple of hours, some of them. As far as I can see, I’m the only geezer near about. But also as far as I can see, none of the joggers, walkers, or bikers is young. It’s a middle-aged crowd. Early middle-aged but still, they’re not kids. There are several attractively fit women among them, but I’ve got my eye on a couple of guys a few spaces over to my right. I’m watching them out of the corner of my eye, with a smirk of satisfaction I’m trying to hide behind my coffee cup. Looks like they’ve just finished a run and are chatting a bit before they climb into their separate cars and head home. Both are tall. One is in pretty good shape. The other, well, if he runs regularly, he’s taken it up recently and the effects are only cardiovascular at this stage. He’s a few hundred miles from being as trim as his friend. That’s not why I’m smirking though. I’m smirking because I have more hair than both of them.
That’s how vain and shallow I am.
The world is filling up with all these bald, paunchy, jowly middle-aged men fighting off age---“Good luck with that!”---or giving into it---“C’mon! Make an effort!”---who are 15 or 20 years younger than me and it doesn’t stop me from thinking of them as the old guys---“Told you it would happen to you.” It’s as if I don’t know how old I am.
Maybe I don’t.
Done with my coffee. Time to push off. I’ve decided which way I’m headed. Looking down the hill and along the path that borders the field where Von Steuben drilled the troops, I can see a set of log cabins under a big old oak with an inviting bench beside them. I judge it to be about a quarter mile away. I can probably do it without collapsing. The hobble back’s going to be the real challenge though. Uphill the whole way. But I’m going to risk it.
Take that, old age.
Made it down.
Now let’s see if I can make it back…