April 03, 2009

Reality Check

Reality has a very dry sense of humor. I’m at Lagoon last year, an amusement park north of Salt Lake, as the summer is winding down. I’ve been very unmanly, failing to win any kind of prize or teddy bear for either Jen or Maddy, despite several attempts while losing loads of cash. I’m not leaving empty handed. I stop outside a booth where I had had some success in years past. The guessing booth, you know, the one where the person guesses your weight within 10 pounds or your age within 3 years. If they’re successful, you’ve just wasted $3. If not, you win a prize of your choice. I’ve always done well at this one due to my youthful looking face and my deceptively slim physique. This is my only chance, I convince myself, plus I’m running out of money.

Just to be sure, I give the young man (I could easily guess his age – 12 or 13 – I should have won a prize for that) $5, good for an age and a weight guess. I'm not taking any chances. I stand there as he looks me over, preparing to guess. I’m 36 at the time and weigh about 190 pounds but do my best to look 26 and about 175. This is a skill I've developed that’s hard to describe but involves subtle eyebrow movement, slightly twitching my right shoulder and humming "Eye of the Tiger." He’s getting ready to guess my age and I’m sure he’s going to be somewhere in the high twenty’s, maybe low 30’s but I’m feeling good, feeling young. I’m just praying he comes in under 33 as I’m eying my choice of prizes.


Did he just say something? Excuse me I ask? 42 he repeats. How do I look 42?! I know I have a few gray hairs but 42? Where did he get that from? Do I look old enough to be his dad? Wow! I’m still getting over the shock when he asks if I’m ready for the weight guess. No, I’m not ready – let’s get back to the age issue. Are you sure you’re looking at the right person?


Excuse me? I thought we were still talking about my age. Wait a minute. 230? You have got to be kidding me! 40 pounds off, and off in the wrong direction? He doesn’t believe me when I tell him my actual weight and then he has the nerve to ask me to step on the scale to prove it.

Completely embarrassed now, my ego annihilated, I do some serious introspection. I’m standing there in front of this booth with Maddy and Joey picking out my hard-won prizes and find myself going through the four stages of grief in quick fashion.

This is not happening to me. I am laying in bed at home having a nightmare. I really look like I’m in my late 20’s and weigh as much as I did in high school. This young man has got it wrong. I’m going to stay right here until shift change and then play the game again with someone that knows what they’re doing.

Now it's my time to play a guessing game with this teenager! Within 1, how many minutes is it going to take me to find some strong psychotic medication in your backpack? Within 3, how many years has it been since you stopped wearing diapers? Within 10, what was your score on your “please the guest at all costs” test? Within 20, what is your eyesight? I’m mad at Lagoon who clearly does not train their people correctly. They should invest in better education on how to make more accurate guesses. If they had, surely he would have been swayed by my eyebrow trick.

What has happened to me? Do I really look like a 42 year old overweight man? I am getting older, though I still feel so young. How did this happen? I have gained a few pounds, but are they that obvious? Do my gray hairs make me look much older than I am? Where is that fudge stand? I need some chocolate, quickly.

Ok, I’m getting old. I admit it. I’m not in the tennis / basketball shape that I was in high school. I can barely do 20 pushups without gasping for air. I nearly threw up after playing in my last tennis match in last year's tournament. As I come to accept reality, I start to realize the following things:

1. I'm not getting "old," just older. Its a gradual process and I’m not going to spend so much time worrying about it anymore. The hours and days move forward regardless of my protests, as well organized as they are. Instead, I’m going to spend that time enjoying each day and being grateful for the days I’ve had and the days I hope to enjoy in years to come.

2. I’m not going to spend so much time worrying about my weight either. Instead, I’m going to focus on being healthy. Elder Holland taught recently that there is no optimal size or shape, just optimal health. If I can do the things I enjoy doing, then I’m probably in good enough internal shape, regardless of my external shape.

3. Absolutely, without equivocation, I will never play the guessing game at Lagoon again.