A close friend of mine recently asked me how many concussions I’ve had throughout my varied careers as a Marine, a football player, a rugby player, an MMA fighter and a drunk idiot. I thought long and hard for a while before responding with, “like, diagnosed by a doctor or just times I was just pretty sure? Eventually you just stop going to the hospital for those things.”
She was mortified.
Head trauma is, of course, no laughing matter, and as the dementia seeps into the metaphorical cracks I’ve left in my brain decades before it might have otherwise, I’m sure I’ll look back on the few head to head collisions I still recall and regret them — but as I’ve mentioned previously, very few of my supposedly “athletic” accomplishments were born out of my innate athletic ability — in large part because, I really don’t have any innate athletic ability whatsoever. When it comes to contact and collision sports, there are really two kinds of athletes: those who rely on skill, finesse and coordination and those who trade on little more than brute force. To be the former, you’ve got to have some real talent. To be the latter, you just need a hard head and weak sense of self-preservation.
That approach earned me trophies and accolades that far exceeded my skill set, put me in rooms with men I had no right to call peers, and gave me this bullshit air of superiority I talk from when opining about how old injuries can inform new workouts. I write Old Man Fitness because it’s the game I’m playing anyway — just trying to beat the clock and keep this old tractor of a body running strong until the two of us find our way into the grave together. Louis C.K. may have recently been outed as a masturbating creep monster, but before all that he had a great bit about going to the doctor for an injury. He asked the doctor what to do about his ankle pain and the doctor told him to stretch it for 30 minutes a day. Louis C.K. then asked, “Okay, how long do I have to do that before my ankle gets better?”