If you don’t want to read a slightly vulgar complaint about the discomfiting realization that I am becoming an old man, stop right now. You are under no obligation.

 

They don’t tell you this stuff when you are younger. Oh sure, you hear the jokes, but they don’t apply to you, and no one bothers to explain them. And if they did, you wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t want to understand, and you’d figure them for exaggerations that would never apply to you, even if they did hold a kernel of truth in the center.

I switched to black boxer-briefs about ten years ago. Not a style choice, not to be sexy – I was already a fat, old, married man and had no need to impress. What happened was, after spending an August Saturday coaching, running up and down the field under the hot summer sun, I was afflicted by heat rash. Heat rash in a very sensitive place. Crippling heat rash with a Sunday of coaching still ahead of me.

Men’s testicles do sag with age. To my immense discomfort, I found I had reached that age. My balls, swinging in my cotton boxers, swimming in sweat, had chafed themselves and their immediate surroundings into a hot, red, swollen agony. I iced my crotch all evening and hobbled through the next day. Sunday evening, I went online and ordered new underwear. A space-age Lycra/polyester/Spandex blend; non-absorbent, wicking and anti-microbial. Snug enough to hug my balls, with short legs so they couldn’t escape or get pinched under the elastic edge like the tighty-whities of my youth. They came in black, which was alright with me – no skid marks, and the occasional drip (where the hell did that come from?) would disappear. I really had no illusions of being a late middle-aged Romeo or some kind of secret agent.

A decade has passed since that little epiphany. I have weathered some. My wife no longer calls me “cute” and I no longer demand she amend that to “ruggedly handsome”. When I look in the mirror, I see my face is lined. I ignore the bags under my eyes. My beard came in white, but it does hide the wattle. I still have hair on my head, even if my part has gotten wider.

I had toweled off after my bath, and gone through the morning ritual in the mirror: shaving, combing my hair and trying to convince myself what a handsome devil I still am. I brushed the lint and pet hair off my shirt and pulled it on. I examined my underwear to make sure they weren’t inside-out and the pecker hole was to the front, when I noticed short, grey hairs stuck to them. That damn cat sheds fur everywhere. It sticks like a magnet to dark clothing, and black is the worst.

As I gave my briefs a snap to knock the dander loose, I caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror. Damn. I guess those short hairs aren’t the cat’s.

They don’t tell you this stuff when you are younger.

 

 

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