Aging is a tricky thing for all of us who are fortunate enough to have made it this far. Little things happen to announce that we aren’t who we were yesterday. A new wrinkle appears, a street sign goes blurry or a hair is found attached to an ear. We learn how to absorb, accept and adjust to this process.
So, last Saturday I’m watching my beloved Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium playing their opening game against a patsy opponent, Northern Iowa.
I’m one of the ninety thousand fans dressed in red. I’m heading to my seat in section F, row 52. I start to slide in only to find I’m up a row from the one I’m supposed to be sitting in. In other games in other years it was an easy adjustment by merely scissoring over a row of backrests. My eyes and mind say, “Sure, here I go,” but my legs and butt respond like some old man. I find myself reaching for balance on the shoulder of an unsuspecting spectator and ungracefully stumbling down to the correct row.
No big deal. No spilled Coke. No flying popcorn. A few minutes later I’m standing for the National Anthem. Instead of thinking about how thankful I am to be an American, I’m focused on how my bleacher-maneuver mechanics went haywire.
The game ends. Turns out, Northern Iowa is no patsy. The Badgers squeak out a win, but my mind is chewing on a more personal battle between the bleachers and me. I wait for the stadium to clear a bit so I can test my dexterity. Was it just an awkward moment, or is this a permanent change I must accept?
My section is nearly cleared of Badger fans. I eye the row below me, realizing that there is no supporting shoulder to provide stability. I try to psych myself up by whispering “Game on, you rows and backrests!” I go for it.
I manage to squeak out a victory, but I concede to myself that as I age, those bleachers will no longer be such easy opponents. And the part about making adjustments as I age? Next game, I’ll make sure I enter the exact row printed on my ticket.