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Feature Story December 25, 2007
The eXile Guide to Aging
By John Dolan Browse author Email
Page 2 of 5

As biological catastrophes accumulate, more and more of your mental energy is devoted to blocking the signals broadcasting damage and decay from sites all over the body. If you listened to these signals, you'd scream and collapse. You're a dry-land version of those salmon in the grizzly documentaries, the humped mutant fish whose bodies are dead but still swimming, covered with necrotic patches, constantly flaking away downstream.

All these pain-broadcasts have their bitter stories, most of them reminders of avoidable injuries. The knee -- whose fault is that? Yours. Every time you walk more than fifty yards, that knee broadcasts the phrase "bone on bone." The tissues that were installed at the factory have worn down like old shock absorbers that bang against the frame. Then there's your heart, and the jaw thing, and your queasy gut. Your fault, your fault, and your fault, respectively.

But the worst torments are the ones too dumb to be tragic -- the gnat buzzes of the aging body. There's a patch of skin in your left ear that starts itching as soon as you get into bed, and grows a pale scab which you must scrape away with the nail of your little finger every week or so. The doctor doesn't believe in it, and you sound like a whining fool when you try to explain. So you resort to the fingernail-gouging approach. Naturally, it gets infected. This is your own fault. All these trivial nightmares are (a) ridiculous, and (b) your own fault.

You're married to a slut, a slave: a human body. And try getting a divorce from that wife, baby. When you're married to your body, it really is "till death do you part." Short of walking off the tenth floor or eating a 12-gauge, you and your body are as married as a couple of Mormons. That's Earth, man: one big Utah. Monogamy, you and your body sliding into decay hand in hand. Touching, huh?

But it all started out so well! You replay it over and over (because you seem to spend a lot of hours lying down these days)...but no matter how many times you rewind, it comes out the same way. Let's face it: you never had a chance, any more than the trilobites did. All you can do is play it back, and back, and back.

Ready? It doesn't matter if you're ready. The eXile is here to dim the lantern as we guide you through a tour of the most horrible plot the world has ever known: Aging.

"Come on, just guess how old I am!"

"Come on, just guess how old I am!"

Age: Birth to 10 Years

The first three years were nightmare material, from falling out of a uterus to facing the fact that you're going to be a tetraplegic feces-factory for a couple of years. Come to think of it, that's how you're likely to spend your last few years, thanks to modern medicine, so maybe infancy is good training for your slow and expensive stay at the Pray for Death Convalescent Hospital. But Nature, the sadistic tapeworm who set up this existence, doesn't trust you to deal with the horrible memories of your first three years. That's why she set up this clever little subprogram: at the age of four, your brain will automatically delete all memories. Every wonder why kids smile? That's why: they've had a brainwipe, and it's the nicest thing, maybe the only nice thing, Ma Nature will ever do for them.

But from five to puberty it gets better. After you bang your head against the table 10,000 times, your growing brain begins to suspect it might be better to duck. This is how we learn: pain and pain and pain and pain. But at least you're getting better. Well, taller at least. There are finally other children who are smaller and weaker than you. Nature put these creatures on earth as victims, so after you do your time as jailhouse bitch to the other kids in kindergarten, it's your turn to torture and fondle the fresh fish. The body understands and appreciates this and becomes happy. This is because the body is a fascist thug.

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