Stay in the parking lot with your car running until “Monkey Wrench” finishes playing on the classic rock station. Realize that cosmic forces have aligned for this moment: a sonic convergence of the music of your youth with the sober reality of your middle age.
In 15 minutes, you’re scheduled for your annual physical exam, and whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to Dave Grohl, who’s only six years older but a few centuries colder than you.
As you sit in the waiting room with four other patients, three younger and one your age, you notice that you are the only person reading a paperback novel. The others are staring at their phones, catatonic, tapping the screen with their thumbs.
Try not to be snooty. Try Not to play your age. Check your phone. Try not to seem disappointed that no one has texted you.
When you follow the nurse into the exam room, keep a pleasant disposition. You’re not an old man yet, even though you’re old enough to be the nurse’s middle-aged father. Don’t be short-tempered and don’t complain. Don’t moan when sitting.
When she measures your blood pressure and tells you it’s getting closer, tell her you drink a lot of coffee. When she asks you to step on the scale, step carefully. When she says the number out loud, pretend you haven’t heard it.
Tell yourself you’ll go on a diet as soon as football season ends, when beers and buffalo wings aren’t the focus on Sunday.
Take the novel and try to read it while you wait for the doctor. Whatever you do, don’t stare at the BMI chart attached to the sterile gray cabinet. Don’t compare yourself to Dave Grohl. Don’t slip into existential terror.
The doctor will arrive and he is also younger than you, but not young enough to be your son, rather a little brother who was the surprise of your parents in old age. While the doctor reads your lab work, he tries to chat. Ask him if he watches the Patriots. Ask him if he listens to the Foo Fighters. Ask him if he likes buffalo wings.
When he tells you that your cholesterol is “a little high”, be surprised. Tell him you’re going to go on a diet, cabbage and carrots and everything vegetable. Don’t tell him you’re waiting for the football season to end.
When he asks about your drink, you seem casual and aloof. Tell him what your grandfather said to his doctor: “I stopped drinking years ago; now I only drink beer ”. Don’t tell him your grandfather really believed his lie.
When he asks you about drug use, you fake shock. Tell him you’re scared to death of fentanyl and too anxious to use cocaine. Don’t ask him if he knows where you can take a shot.
After doing the check, double check your blood pressure (still high; too much caffeine) and make sure you are not completely broken, dress quickly and see if you can get out of the room sooner …
“Now you are that age,” he will say. “We’ll have to schedule a colonoscopy.”
Hint. Know it’s for the best. Know that you are not ready to die yet. Tell yourself that you will start that diet. Tell yourself that the novel will end in a wedding. Tell yourself that Dave Grohl will have a colonoscope up his ass too.