Getting together with friends ain't like it used to be

By Fay Jacobs 
Illustration by Rob Waters
From the August 2021 issue


It’s August already and I’m aging more gracelessly than usual. But at least I’m vaccinated, out and about, trying to remember what life used to be like. The fact that I lost more than a year of touring with my one woman show, “Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay,” is significant.

I mean hell, I broke into show business at an age I’d more likely break a hip, so a lost year is big. How big? This morning on Facebook somebody posted “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”

Tell me about it. We’re deteriorating at a rapid rate. My wife recently had a knee replacement made necessary by an injury she got putting out the garbage. And I suffered a torn rotator cuff in my shoulder tripping over that same garbage before it went out. We’ve both spent the past few months at physical therapy.

This is where we see our friends now. Physical therapy. We used to meet at protest rallies, dance clubs and bars. Now we’re grunting side-by-side on adjoining gurneys. Hell, we used to smoke joints, not replace them. Our grandparents did not go to physical therapy. Something hurt, they sat down. They stayed home, eating hard candy from a silver candy dish and watching Lawrence Welk. We go to physical therapy.

My wife comes home from therapy and I ask “Who’d you see today?” “Everybody!” she says. It’s half the golf league and three quarters of the pickleball team.

I know we boomers trend younger and stay more active than our parents did, but it has consequences — like having to be someplace every Tuesday and Thursday morning. We practice things like sitting down and getting up. We stretch enormous rubber bands that could, if mishandled, take your eye out. We sit under huge ice packs while little electronic muscle stimulators give us the full Taser experience.

When I started shoulder therapy they asked me my goal for recovery. My goal is to make the pain stop. That’s it. Since there’s no more Ringling Brothers Circus I’m not considering a career as a trapeze artist. I don’t need to recover full function. I just want to be pain-free lifting a Cosmo to my mouth.

One exercise has me lying on my back and trying to lift a golf club over my head; I realize this is the closest I’ll ever get to pumping iron. And no, I cannot lift the damn thing all the way up. But halfway gets me to Cosmo territory.

One of my pals says her doctor prescribed medical marijuana for her shoulder pain. I asked if it helped. She told me the pain is as bad as ever but now she doesn’t give a damn. I liked the sound of that.

We even try to fix our brains. I know you’ve seen those TV ads for Prevagen. I was thinking about starting on it until I found out it costs $40 a bottle. I figured I didn’t need it since I remembered that $40 is a lot of money. Anyway, I’ve always thought it was odd that Prevagen commercials proudly state that it’s “formulated with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish.” I’m supposed to believe that an ingredient found in one of the dumbest animals on the planet is going to make my brain function better?

But apparently this memory thing is common, because conversations with my friends are starting to sound eerily similar. “You know, what’s-her-name, right? We met at the fish place, um, whatchamacallit.”

Somebody told me that when I’m racking my brain for a word or name, I should clench both fists for increased blood flow to the brain, stand still like that for 10 seconds and the word will pop up. What’s worse, saying “whatchamacallit” or channeling Sylvester Stallone?

Well, the good news is that in June, the CDC gave us the green light to open things up and I’m back on the show biz circuit again. Bookings are coming in and my career as the last comic sitting is back on track. My wife is teeing up on the golf course again, and my shoulder feels a whole lot better.

It’s time to celebrate the complete reopening of our resort area with its beaches, restaurants, retail, happy hours and dance floors. Live music has been back for several months and pickleball is all the rage again. And I’m going back into active boomer mode.

I hope to meet up with you on the Delaware coast, where I’ll be up moving, dancing, biking and at happy hours ordering top-shelf cocktails even if I am no longer capable of reaching the top shelf.

Cheers to us boomers and the physical therapists who keep us booming!