Authors: Billy Crystal
Tags: #Biography & Autobiography, #Entertainment & Performing Arts
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65 Is Not 60
March 14, 2013, my sixty-fifth birthday. I got up that morning, padded over to the bathroom, threw some water on my face, looked in the mirror, and my uncle Al was staring back at me. My scream brought Janice, my wife of forty-two years, running in. I kept yelling, “HOLY SHIT! What the fuck happened to me?” Somehow, overnight it seemed, I had turned from a hip, cool baby boomer into a Diane Arbus photograph. I looked at Janice for an encouraging word, for a hug, for an “It’s okay, Billy, you look great. It’s an old mirror.” All she did was glance down at my robe, which had opened up, and ask: “When did your pubic hair turn gray?”
It’s hard to believe. Not the part about the pubic hair or that my package now looks like Einstein with Barry Scheck’s nose. It’s the part about how it’s really happening. And fast. As a kid, I was drawn to the dark side of things. I knew at a young age that no one gets out of this alive, but it seemed that I had time. Back in 1961, when I was thirteen, I would think,
In 1978 I’ll be thirty. Great, that’s so far away.
Then when I was thirty I thought,
In 1998 I’ll be fifty and that’s so far away.
Now that I’m sixty-five I think,
In the year 2038 I’ll be … mostly dead.
Or as Miracle Max in
The Princess Bride
would say, “Slightly alive.”
There’s some comfort in knowing that there are so many of us boomers in the same boat. Truth is, very soon, the entire country is pretty much going to smell the same, from Los Angeles to Maine. We are all in this together and are all having the same thought: I FUCKING HATE THIS! There are seventy-seven million of us in this age group, and with all our diversity, we have one thing in common: OUR PARENTS WERE RIGHT! It all happened so fast.
During the past year I saw my dermatologist more than I saw my grandkids. Things started to grow on me where they shouldn’t. My ass looks like the bottom of a boat. I don’t shower anymore; I’m sandblasted twice a week. I’m always at the dermatologist’s. He keeps picking at me; I’m like his own personal honey-baked ham.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to bitch and moan.… Wait, I am, but I’m trying to answer the really fundamental questions of life: Where are we as baby boomers? Where are we going? Where have we been? Did anything we do really matter? If there’s an afterlife, do they have digital cable? What’s next for us? Do the Yankees have enough pitching? Why does God make everything small that should be big and everything big that should be small? Like my nuts, why are they now HUGE? Every time I sit on the toilet, I make tea with my balls. Thank you, God, put that and the Nazis on your greatest hits album.
The whole idea of sixty-five is scary, because I’m now closer to (gulp) seventy than I am to sixty, but to me, fear has always been a motivator. America’s kids are plump and out of shape, but not me. Have you been to Disneyland lately? It’s not a small world after all. It’s a big, fat, sweaty-ass-crack world. I, on the other hand, eat organic food, I juice, I work out, and I take comfort in the fact that my sixty-five is not my grandparents’ sixty-five. When my grandfather was sixty-five he looked eighty … and he smelled ninety.
* * *
We all have a different image of what old is, and if you were exposed to senior citizens at a young age, as I was, and they told you, “One day you’ll look like this,” it can color your soul with terror. For me, old is my grandfather, coming to visit in his Bermuda shorts hiked up to his tits, and wearing black socks and sandals, and when he would sit down you could see what looked like a small dog in his pants surrounded by a bag of pears. Terrifying. I never wanted to look like that, so I push myself.
At sixty-five I can do the same things I could do at thirty-five, if I could only remember what those things were. At sixty-five things do change … quickly.
For one thing, your libido slows down. You don’t kid yourself and look at twenty-five-year-olds anymore. Actually, I do, but they’re out of focus, and by the time I get my glasses on, they’re gone. When you’re sixty-five, you’re surprised by what now turns you on. You look at Dame Edna and think,
You know what, maybe.
At sixty-five, when you go out to eat and tell the family that dinner is on you, you mean it literally. It’s on your chin, on your shirt, on your pants. You’re usually wearing more than you ate. At sixty-five, you’ve already had ten colonoscopies. My colon has been photographed more than the fucking
And it’s horrible, because we fear the colonoscopy, we’re terrified of it. For me, I never enter a door marked
. It’s the fear of the procedure with the camera and the whole nine yards going up there. It’s going to be painful, but as they say, it’s not the camera that hurts, it’s the crew. For those who haven’t had it, let me explain what a colonoscopy is. Basically, you’re driving north on a southbound highway … if you catch my drift … and the drift comes after the procedure. I’m telling you, they fill you with hot air. I was literally a hybrid car, I was half gas. You’re like a walking whoopee cushion.
The key to having a happy time as you develop chicken hands is you just have to stay upbeat and optimistic, even as you’re trying to make your comb-over not look like Rudy Giuliani circa 1999. Stay positive! I hate seeing guys give up when they turn sixty-five. Just go to the mall. There are the wives, with the husbands trailing behind them. Poor guys, they have no shoulders. They look like paramecia in suburban coats. They’re just following their wives around the shopping mall, getting excited only when they can have a new front door key made at the locksmith kiosk. They drift around the mall, drifting, drifting, drifting. It’s like the march of the very depressed penguins; they’re walking—it’s not even a walk, it’s a waddle, it’s a shuffle, it’s a wuffle. They just wander around the mall with their wives leading them, and they’re holding the wife’s coat in one hand and her pocketbook with the other. And you know what’s in her pocketbook?
At sixty-five, you’re always a little cold. Even the new thicket of hair on your back doesn’t help. You start to think,
Global warming isn’t such a bad thing.
Global warming isn’t the only inconvenient truth. The real inconvenient truth is that I now pee in Morse code. Am I painting a pretty picture?
Which gets me to my most important point, the one thing I want you to take from this book, because it can change your life. It’s this: that if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, don’t worry because … wait, I forgot what I was going to say, what was I talking about … give me a minute. Shit! Damn it, I hate when this happens. Oh well, I’ll remember sometime before the book is done.… Hey, where are my keys?
One thing is constant for me. Every night I go to sleep at eleven. I wake up refreshed, ready to go, full of energy, look at the clock, and it’s one-ten
Hi, I’m Billy and I’m an insomniac. Right now, I’ve been up since 1948. It actually started back when I was born: First seven days, perfect. I was doing great, sleeping in, clocking twenty hours a night. Then day 8, they woke me up and somebody with a black hat and a beard cut off the tip of my penis. I’ve been up ever since.
from the Greek word meaning “I can’t fucking sleep!” Ah, sleep … to sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub. I tried rubbing it. Nothing. My penis looked at me and said, “Are you trying to start a fire?” So now I’m awake and I feel like a fool. Guys, at our age, masturbating is the worst type of high school reunion. You’re with your first love, who looks older and smaller, there’s no real excitement, and ultimately you’re sorry you came.
“Did you sleep well, did you sleep?” I tell people I sleep like a baby: I’m up every two hours. And it’s so lonely when you can’t sleep and your spouse can. Sometimes when I wake up, I fake nightmares, just so I have someone to talk to. “Don’t—no, no, put the gun down, no!”
“Honey, you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay, it was just a bad dream. You want to play cards?”
I feel bad about waking Janice up, but it’s better than watching her sleep in that middle-aged way with the occasional snore. Men hate when women snore. It’s a double standard: we men fart, cough up things and spit them in the street, we pick our noses while we drive and, if we’re alone, wipe it on the bottom part of the seat, we pee in the shower and on the golf course. Come on, guys, admit it: we all pee in the shower because it feels so good, but if a woman snores, we’re ready to get a lawyer. We’re Vikings at the social tea of life.
So I’ve tried everything to fall asleep. I tried the glass of red wine before bed for a few months. I still couldn’t sleep, and I ended up in Betty Ford. Then I got one of those sound effects machines that creates the experience of being on the beach. My model is called Coney Island. It has waves, weeping Mets fans, and gunfire. They say it works because the sound of rushing water makes you want to go to sleep. It made me want to pee. Now I have another problem.
Getting up quietly in the middle of the night is a challenge. I’m groggy and walk to the john with all the grace of Buzz Aldrin doing the tango on
Dancing with the Stars.
Once I get to the bathroom, I don’t want to stand up and pee because God hasn’t messed with my stream today and the noise will wake everybody up as I yell, “That’s what I’m talking about!” So I decide to sit down, and I fall in because some schmuck (who would be me) forgot to put the seat down.
You know why we can’t sleep? It’s because we think. The brain doesn’t shut off; there’s a little factory going all night. We never think about good things, only the bad things we’ve done. The regrets. When you can’t sleep, every night is Yom Kippur. “Why did I say that to that schmuck? Okay, he was a schmuck, but why did I say that? After all, he is the pope.”
So I try to calm down by eating. They say turkey makes you drowsy because it has tryptophan. If it works so well, how come you never see a turkey nod off? I have a turkey sandwich and a warm glass of milk—and once you have milk, you gotta have a cookie. Now I still can’t sleep and my cholesterol is at 800.
I’m so upset, I try to watch some TV. That late at night, it’s all commercials aimed at my age group. First one I see is for a sleeping aid called Rozerem. That’s the one where they say “your dreams miss you” and they show Abe Lincoln talking to a beaver.
They said it’s the first sleep aid with no potential for dependence. Really? If I’m taking a drug that makes me dream about Lincoln talking to a beaver, I’m taking that five times a day.
Next comes the onslaught. Every ad is for beer, big fat hamburgers, Rogaine, and Viagra. They think we’re all one fat bald guy who can’t get it up.
But at least the new impotency ads are aimed at women. Now they show a really hot woman in her forties; she has that happy, contented look we’ve all forgotten, like she’s just made love for hours. And then the guy comes into the bedroom, the guy who had the problem. He looks like a middle-aged model (or Mitt Romney), he’s got perfect hair, a great smile, a sweater tied around his neck, and at the end of the ad he and the wife are on a little boat that has the biggest mast you’ve ever seen in your life. I’m not stupid; I get it.
Then there’s that Cialis ad where they say you take it and it lasts for thirty-six hours. You can have sex anytime in that thirty-six-hour window. That’s way too much pressure for me. We’re a fast-paced society: we want things now, we have instant Internet, instant messages, we want instant sex, not thirty-six-hour Cialis. Thirty-six hours is more than my whole history of sex. Cialis is a bad pill for us Jews. “Irving, take this pill, it’s good for thirty-six hours.” He says, “That’s over the whole year, right? Can I redeem hours if I don’t use them? Can I trade them in for that set of dishes?”