A class of my own
Why getting old is not for sissies and no time to go soft

A class of my own
Zach Hively - 11/09/2023

So my high school graduating class (go Mascots!) just held its 20-year reunion. This struck me as odd because 2003 was in no way 20 years ago. In that much time, you would expect the world to evolve, people to grow, something – anything at all! – to feel different. I mean, something besides smartphones spreading like viruses and viruses spreading like smartphones and AI surpassing, by all meaningful measures, the capacity of even the most advanced Speak & Spell.

To be sure, some things really have changed. Here’s an example: In high school, I never got invited to any of the parties I heard about. Now that we’ve all grown up and had the chance to mature, I don’t even hear about the parties in the first place.

I welcome this development. I had all the time in the world in high school, so if I had been invited to the parties, I would have had unlimited bandwidth for making myself sick with preemptive social anxiety before ultimately talking myself out of going at the last minute and finishing my book. 

Now, I don’t have time or energy for that kind of emotional horseplay, let alone for finishing books. I am a Busy Adult who has recently discovered how gripping Instagram Reels can be when I should be sleeping. So even if I had been invited to the reunion, I would have ignored the message altogether until inevitably running into a classmate at the grocery store while visiting my folks for Christmas, at which point I’d have had to pretend I changed my number and lost my contacts so let’s text each other right now OK great I’ll see you at the 25th reunion, and then promptly dropped my phone in the grocery store garbage can and bought myself a burner, probably a flip phone, and started a new life in another state or even better a Central American nation.

Or, I could tell the truth. This would likely be “Sorry I missed the reunion, which I only learned about after the fact on a Reel. But I had a urology appointment that day anyway.”

This is the truth about realizing childhood ended long enough ago that today’s children are dressing in your old clothes for Decades Day at school: Your body is changing. But unlike the fun times of puberty, no one has the awkward conversation with you about what to do when you find a weird lump, or that mole on your back extends like a pencil eraser, or you get sore from doing the dishes. And making appointments for this stuff takes all – and I mean all – of your free time.

And whatever time you don’t have left is spent filling out the same extensive questionnaire in the waiting room that you already filled out online for the Expedited Pre-Check-In, and which you filled out the last time you were in to discuss the changes in your otherwise flawless urinary history. 

I’m trying to embrace being such a Busy Adult and doing the Right Thing by going to the doctor for all these concerns before they become even bigger concerns, like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, which as a side note came out closer in time to my high school graduation than my graduation is to today. 

What I find is that, by and large, falling apart is not what those in the medical profession call “anything to worry about.” I spend hours and hours of my precious not-so-youth sitting on hold to book appointments, and deleting reminder texts, and actually remembering to go to the appointments, and how am I rewarded? 

I’m not. I don’t even get a piece of candy, unless I book for the week before Halloween. Nor do I get a diagnosis. I get some concerned grunts, if I’m very lucky, then the doctor puts her stethoscope around her neck and says, “Everything seems perfectly normal for a man your age. That lump should resolve itself. Get up from that computer more, even though that’s how you earn the money to pay for these appointments. And remember to floss! You can schedule a follow-up with Debra at the front.”

Which I do, because the lump still hurts, and I don’t believe it will “resolve itself.” Medical appointments are in scarce supply these days, so it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and have to trade a kidney for it and book the requisite kidney specialist on top of everything else Plus, I am a Busy Adult, and it’s helpful to have these things on the calendar – preferably in five-year intervals, in hopes of getting out of another reunion that day.

– Zach Hively

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