I have “onychomycosis.”

    Quick, now.  What does that mean?

    One of the marvels of the modern world isn’t indoor plumbing.  As cool and hygienic as that is.  No, it’s the chance to visit with a physician on a regular basis.  Well, at least one who won’t use leeches to cast out demons.  Unless you live in medieval England.  Or California.  Or until government-run health care.

    It was during one of my infrequent visits to the doctor that I was pronounced a sufferer of a dread disease whose name is as hard to spell as osteop….ossteyo…osteeo…oh, you know, that bone disease thing.

    Does this scourge spur telethons?  Do celebrities wear ribbons at the Academy Awards to proclaim their faux empathy for the afflicted?  Are there snazzy bumper stickers on every SUV?  Do we need to notify our doctor if it lasts longer than four hours?

    Well…no, no, no, and-thankfully-no.  Rather than some exotic malady which energizes world governments on the order of a “Save the Banana Slug” frenzy, onychomycosis is nothing more than an infection of the nail bed.  Or, as I prefer to call it: “Old Man Toe.”

    Brought on by a fungus (I know-EWW!!), Old Man Toe manifests itself primarily on-you guessed it-the big toes of middle-aged men, resulting in discolored, brittle, and hardened nails.

    Clinically speaking, it looks icky.  And is the number one reason why old guys wear socks with sandals.

    Except for having to give up my dreams of being a world-class grape stomper or wood nymph, “OMT” hasn’t really affected me.  I can live a happy, productive life without ever having to worry about being stigmatized-except at the beach.

    However, since it IS kinda yucky looking, my doctor deemed it prudent to prescribe a cure for this particular brand of podiatric leprosy.

    He told me there wouldn’t be too many side effects-apart from possible liver damage, headaches, nausea, drowsiness when operating heavy machinery, heart arrhythmia, pregnancy, dry eye, pink eye, black eye, rib eye, bulls eye, stink eye, rickets, whooping cough, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, chicken pox, measles, mumps, heartworm, tapeworm, ringworm, inchworm, lockjaw, eczema, elephantiasis, gingivitis, halitosis, sleeping sickness, post-nasal drip, flatulence, incontinence, termites, ingrown fingernails, shingles, diarrhea, back acne, ear wax, bees wax, bees knees, water on the knees, water on the brain, brain freeze, and Tastee Freeze.  Throughout it all, I assured my physician that I was willing to take the risk, if only to be able to walk barefoot in the sand without causing children to flee in panic.

    But, when he brought up possible sexual side effects, I told that quack to take his cure and shove it.  After all, if Bill could live with Hillary, I could live with Old Man Toe.

    Sadly, OMT is only the latest sign that I’m inching closer to senior citizen discounts at the movies and thanking the Lord each time I wake up.

    I try hard not to drown in a sea of self-pity as my body lurches inexorably toward total breakdown.  Still, it’s hard to ignore indicators that I’m no longer a fresh-faced 18 year old.  Indicators like…

    When faced with two choices, I choose the one that will get me in bed before 9:00.

    I stubbornly hang onto my collection of LPs, even though a replacement stylus for my record player is as common as a salad on Chris Christie’s dinner table.

    There was a time when the most uncomfortable part of a physical was having my blood drawn.  That was before the digital exam.  Oh…yeah…YOU know what I mean.

    I remember when bell-bottoms went out of fashion.  Before they came back INTO fashion.  If leisure suits ever come back, though, I’m just gonna call in sick until I die.

    Back in MY day, an internet was used for fishing, microwaves were how midgets said goodbye, and cell phones were used to call your lawyer from jail.

     Plus, I don’t think you can call the little bastards “midgets” anymore.

    I cracked a rib playing Wiffle Ball.  WIFFLE Ball.

    There was a time when Mick Jagger didn’t look like my grandfather in spandex.

    My hairline is receding to my collar, but I can braid what comes out of my nose.  Considering that I sport sock rings on my calves, dents in my head from bifocals, and a varicose veins road map on my shins, it’s obvious to all that I’m a real hottie.

    Forget that big screen TV at Christmas.  Give me a warm pair of socks anytime.   

    I now eat antacids like I used to eat Doritos.  And Doritos like I used to eat broccoli.

    I own a tee shirt which says ”Old Guys Rule.”  How sad is that?  If it means the laxative counter at CVS, I suppose so.

    I can never figure out whether I’m “jiggy” with it or “down” with that.  I guess old guys should never speak “hip” lingo.  Like earrings and ponytails, it just makes them look silly.

    I pay attention to Wilfred Brimley diabetus commercials, watch those Time-Life “Best of the 60s” info spots, and reach for a pencil and paper whenever ads for “The Villages” come on.     

    I’m afraid to fart.

    Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and Marilyn Manson…what freaks!  Black Sabbath, KISS, and Alice Cooper…now THERE’S music!

    I know the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure.  And what “good” cholesterol is.

    Donald Duck and I have some things in common.  Neither one of us wears pants in the house nor can anyone understand us.

    I know the words to the theme song from “H.R. Pufnstuf”, prefer Curly over Shemp, and remember Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.  Now, if I could just figure out how to program my DVR.  And change the time on the microwave.

    Belts and suspenders holding up pants with elastic waistbands.  Yeah, that’s what I’M talking about.

    Hot dogs give me gas, beer makes me sleepy, and fiber is my friend.

    I’m actually disappointed when the mail doesn’t come on time.    

    I wonder what happened to my belt buckle and feet.

    We had party lines; they have cell phones.  We had mailmen with pith helmets; they have gmail.  We had Pong; they have Mario Party.  We had mindless entertainment on network TV; they have…uh, let’s call it a draw.

    Of course, the moral of the story is be happy, for youth is fleeting.  As inevitable as death, taxes, and “Survivor” reruns, the youth of today will be in expand-o-slacks tomorrow.

    And, wearing socks to hide Old Man Toe. 

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