It is easier to say that you are going to retain your mental adaptability as you grow older than it is to actually retain your mental adaptability as you grow older. I was thinking back over May in Texas earlier today, but before I go into that, I need to tell you an illustrative story.
Two years ago I began an exercise regimen as part of my substance abuse recovery program. In 2007 I had not set foot in a gym for a solid 15 years. So when I went to the Midwest Athletic Club for my first workout that year, it was as if I had stepped out of a 15-year-old time capsule in many respects but especially in the area of gym wear. And I was ever so slow on the uptake in realizing this, even with some very heavy handed hints.
Just before I went back to the gym for the first time, I had gone to John Wilson Sporting Goods for a new athletic supporter. The elastic in my fifteen-plus-year-old jock was all fucked up. The young clerk there told me they were out of those. I could not believe this. I did not say anything, but the idea of a sporting goods store out of athletic supporters boggled my mind. He said that they would order some more, the little lying bastard, and that I should come back in a week.
That was a locally owned store, not a franchise, and so I determined to cooperate in this. And by the way, this is exactly the kind of bullshit you have to put up with if you want to support locally owned businesses. If you really want to go to a store confident that you are going to find exactly what you want, you go to Walmart. Isn't that sad?
The next week the owner was there. And he explained to me that they had stopped carrying athletic supporters with the exception of the snap together variety that accommodate a cup for baseball catchers. He further explained that young people “don't wear those anymore.” And that is how I came to purchase my first pair of Under Armour athletic underwear, 87% polyester, 13% elastane, made in the Dominican Republic.
That should have put me on the alert for other changes that had occurred with the passage of time, but it did not. I was wearing black high top Air Jordan basketball shoes with socks that came up my calf. And I continued to wear that combination for a couple of weeks. For some reason I could not see that even the men playing basketball did not have tops that high, and nobody in the whole gym had socks that came up on their calves. They were wearing what I call golf socks. Women used to call them “anklets.” You can hardly tell the person has socks on at all. So I bought some of those socks finally and a decent pair of New Balance training shoes, but only after going in there regularly looking retro for two weeks.
Somebody purchased an Under Armour tee for me as a gift, and I took it back to the store insisting it was too small. Well, hell, the whole point of those shirts is that they are skin tight. But I could not compute that immediately either.
Here is my point. I have been looking at my treasured 20-year-old John B. Stetson straw cowboy hat that I wore so proudly for a month in Texas. I finally realize now, two months later, that it does not look at all like the cowboy hats that other men are wearing in Texas today. When I was younger, I would have immediately--immediately--sensed that, and you would not have caught me outside the door with that hat on.
I think I am becoming a kind of geek. I need a minder.
And I need a new hat.
And I wonder if Walmart carries athletic supporters.