You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Bad knees, aging, and AARP action heroes.
Last week, I was reminded of a fact I don’t often like to consider. I’m not getting any younger. As if my graying hair wasn’t enough to drive home this point, I also managed to sprain my MCL during a recent indoor soccer match. Since then I’ve been hobbling around and sporting a knee brace whenever I’m wearing pants baggy enough to accommodate it. I suffered this injury after playing for a month with a nagging groin pull. Maybe it’s just me, but I think my 35-year-old body is trying to tell me something I probably don’t want to hear.
I suppose I shouldn’t complain (so please ignore the previous paragraph). I have plenty of acquaintances whose aches and pains are far worse than mine. I know people with bad backs, people with reconstructed knees, and in the last year I’ve even witnessed two different guys tear up their Achilles tendons. Apparently, I’m not the only one getting older.
I wouldn’t have to worry about all of these physical ailments if I’d chosen a different career path and become a famous Hollywood actor. These guys don’t age… or at least that’s what we’re led to believe.
We’re only a month into 2010 and already the multiplexes are overrun with blockbuster action flicks featuring stars that can aptly be described as long in the tooth. Denzel Washington is kicking ass and securing the future of mankind (or something like that) in The Book of Eli. Jackie Chan is a world-class spy who is kicking ass and getting overwhelmed by children (who says Hollywood can’t come up with an original idea?) in The Spy Next Door. And come February a bald, doughy John Travolta will be kicking ass and thwarting terrorists in From Paris with Love.
All three actors are fifty-five years old. That’s a full five years past the age requirement to join AARP.
I should have known the rules of Hollywood action movies had changed after I sat through Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I could write a thousand words about what was wrong with that movie if I hadn’t erased it from my brain Men in Black style. But the one thing I do vaguely remember was that Indiana Jones seemed so old I was worried he might break a hip at some point during all of that swashbuckling.
And let’s not forget about Rambo. Sylvester Stallone continues to pump out action movies despite being old enough to collect Social Security. At least he’s smart enough to pump himself full of enough HGH that he only seems mildly ridiculous for making these films.
None of this should really surprise me. People are still paying top dollar to watch rockers like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and KISS prance around the stage in heavy makeup, leather pants and sleeveless shirts.
Maybe the reason our culture loves watching old men engage in young men activities is because we’re unable to accept our own aging and our own mortality. So if we go to the movies and see a bloated Danny Zuko beat the living crap out of enemy combatants, we begin to collectively believe all that stuff about age only being a number and fifty-five being the new thirty-five. And if that’s the case, there’s no reason we won’t also be able to kick ass and take names well into our fifties and sixties.
Call me old fashioned, but I firmly believe that if you’re old enough to receive senior discounts, you’re too old to be an action star or a spandex-clad rocker. That’s not to say people over fifty shouldn’t lead rich, active lives. They absolutely should. I just don’t want to watch them jujitsu bad guys or play guitar in assless leather chaps.
We all get old, our bodies break down, and eventually we’re all going to die. I know it sucks, but that’s just the way it goes. And I have the aching knee to prove it.