We are all getting so very old. Ancient, even.
Thank you Captain Obvious, I hear the crowd roar. But you must stick with me here.
I’m referring to a particular group. My mates. The boys I grew up with.
We are all approaching fifty years. A bunch of us, hobbling towards five decades of life. Some with more hair than others.
The first of the birthdays was at the weekend. Others will follow in the months ahead. Then next year. And a few in the early part of 2014.
You might tag us as over the hill, but we’re all still young at heart. We remember how it once was. What we used to get up to. I wouldn’t say we were wild. Although others might. I prefer to remember us as high-spirited, and fun-loving.
When we get together these days, we try to do the things we once did. For a while at least. Before one of us nods off.
For this party, we decided to gather at our local a few hours earlier. A punt and a few cool drinks, before the official fun began. A time-honoured tradition among this gang.
One by one they arrived. I don’t get to see them that much now, so every greeting featured a heart-felt hug and a firm handshake.
The ales flowed, and so did the stories. But the topics are so very different.
I returned to the table after a successful wager at Caulfield, to find the boys deep in conversation about their prostates. Not the footy, or the surf, or even a joke. Prostates.
One was recovering from a test. Another had one booked. Everyone had a horror story. Can’t be too careful, you know.
This bunch had been known to take over entire disco dance floors, and drain kegs in backyards. And here we were, discussing troubled male glands. In the same bar that the more spirited had arm wrestled in their youth.
For me, the conversation was a timely one. I’m having surgery later this week. They asked plenty of questions and painted terrible pictures about what was ahead. So nice of them.
We then shifted body parts. One of the boys described his progress after a knee replacement. A bloke who terrorised opponents on the field years ago. Now paying a painful price.
We left for the party soon after. A gentle walk towards the beach. A few were hobbling. One softie was even complaining about the cold. Why didn’t I take a jacket?
We arrived, and found other tell-tale signs around the room. One of the boys on crutches. Another bung knee. And it’s fair to say no-one was carrying a hair brush.
A bloke I hadn’t seen in twenty years mentioned that he’d had a heart attack a few years back. He was a respected opponent in our battles on the paddock. Now he was careful about his weight, and what he ate. Although it must be said, his form on the night was most impressive. I’m guessing the cardiac surgeon has given beer the green light.
A few haven’t made it this far. So sad. One of our great friends fought cancer like a warrior a few years back. The despicable disease got him in the end. Another is in the fight of his life right now. And we’re backing him to get the cash.
So we’re the lucky ones. Still very much alive and kicking. Having a giggle. Just falling asleep earlier.
The birthday boy finished the night by falling down the stairs. There was mock concern for a while, before everyone started laughing at him. I’m told he made a full recovery.
That’s what’s got us this far. A healthy dose of that great Australian trait. The ability to laugh at ourselves. And join is the fun with those closest to us.
My time’s coming, I know. The good news is that my knees are fine. And I’m still safe on the stairs. But can someone lend me a jacket? It’s freezing in here.