I sat down to write something today and started to think about all the things I haven’t yet done, aged 38. That’s a lot of things. Some of them positive (never had a filling) some negative (never been water skiing).
Then I decided that no, that’s not the spirit, think about all the things that you have done. Almost four decades on the planet, not all of it spent playing Tomb Raider 2, you’ve experienced plenty. And some of it just in the last six months! I’ve got tales to tell alright. So here is a brief roundup of things that have happened to me for the first time, aged 38.
I was stung by a bee – Now, I know this doesn’t seem like much of an achievement, but it’s something of a milestone as I’ve been waiting for this to happen for approximately 34 years. At some point as a child, you become aware that bees and wasps are different. Wasps are indiscriminate pain machines whereas bees are fluffy little doodle monsters just going about their business, saving their stinger (and presumably, their self-defence lessons) for the one time they really need it. You also, at some point, get taught that if a bee stings you it leaves behind its stinger, which you will need to extract with a pair of handily available tweezers. You carry this knowledge with you through life, believing that one day you might be able to showcase your expertise in stinger removal thus saving the day. Much like chucking a potato into an overly spiced curry or hitting a shark on the nose.
However! I had never been stung by a bee, nor had I ever witnessed anyone else getting stung by a bee which led me to believe that the whole thing was a myth. Like badgers1.
That was, until the fateful day late last year when I was walking the boy home from school and experienced the most unpleasant sensation within my trouser leg. It was a warm autumn day and although I was not wearing my pyjamas, I was wearing something which could be mistaken for pyjamas in a certain light. The loose nature of my attire had a detrimental effect in this instance and a rather large doodle monster found its way into my trouser bottom then all the way up to my hip. Do you know, getting stung by a bee is quite painful? I don’t generally open my trousers and peer into them in public (and outside a church too!) but I couldn’t quite figure out where the pain was coming from so I had no choice but to make some inspections at which point I realised that no, actually, bees really do sting. And they leave their stingers behind. Which was the giveaway really, as the bee was nowhere to be seen. I jumped around a bit trying to extract the creature from my clothing although as my delighted six year old had the wherewithal to point out, it wasn’t going to sting me again.
Eventually, an exhausted looking bee plopped out the bottom of my trousers and lay dying on the pavement and I felt a bit guilty although not that guilty as the sting had already turned into a massive, swollen volcano and was knacking quite a bit. The stinger didn’t need tweezers, I just brushed it away, another lie.
So not an experience I wish to repeat, but another box ticked all the same.
I ran a half marathon – Not bad for a little porker with stumpy legs hey? To sum it up, the first 9 miles were a breeze, the next two a bit shit and the last two a lycra-based existential breakdown. The support was amazing, the people of Trafford and Sale were wonderful and even the blatant liars telling me I was almost there helped to push me on to the end. As I came around the last corner, someone told me the end was in sight. This might have been true if I was considerably taller and running in my glasses. As it was, the home straight was a torturous plod along Talbot Road while I tried, with all my will, not to be sick on myself.
This one does actually feel like quite an achievement, although I’m still pretty sure that I fluked it. There was a large part of the route which doubled back on itself, perhaps I somehow managed to accidentally cut out about nine of the 13.1 miles? Maybe it in fact took me well over two hours to run 4.1 miles, which sounds altogether more plausible?
The main evidence that I ran the whole thing is the picture of me at the finish line, wrapped in a space blanket, an astonishing shade of puce2. grimacing at the camera. I tried to smile I honestly did but the rictus had set in and it was all I could do to stand upright. Gurning, proudly holding my medal, wondering if I could teleport home because honestly, I’m all out of steps.
There was all the training too, of course. I did actually prepare for the race, incrementally longer runs every weekend until I was approaching the half marathon mark on training days. Plodding along, finding creative routes around the wilds of Stockport listening to music I didn’t really want to listen to because my hands had seized up and I couldn’t reach the iPod lurking down my sports bra. Thinking about all the better things I could be doing if I was at home, like eating Nutella from a spoon or watching other people running on the telly. I do think though, that all the running I’ve done over the last year has shunted me into the category ‘sporty’ which is equally delighting and horrifying my inner teenage self.
Had a massage – I’ve always put massage into the same bracket as colonic irrigation; A needless experience, involving a stranger, being undressed in an alien environment and bodily violation. But I’ll try anything once.
I was talked into it by someone at work who I like very much and who recommended the massage therapist first hand. I figured if it was good enough for her… The massage was in my lunch hour and was carried out on campus, which basically meant I was taking my clothes off at work. An experience I try to save for special occasions. I think the whole thing was meant to have a slightly spiritual air about it but Mrs Pragmatism here found the reference to ‘energy’ a bit hard to swallow.
The massage itself was strangely satisfying although it hurt, a lot. That’s normal, right? The lovely therapist asked a few times where I would like her to concentrate and where I felt I was holding the most tension. Saying “my bum muscles” didn’t seem like an appropriate answer at the time but should I ever repeat the experience, I will make it known that that’s where my tension lives. In my bum. A hangover from pregnancy-related sciatica, no doubt.
The pain lasted for some time afterwards (not as long as the bee sting) although I will admit to feeling lighter once the hour was over (although not actually lighter, it’s the colonic you need for that). Would I have another one? Probably, although I’ve not got around to making that appointment yet which possibly means no.
So there you go, three things that happened to me aged 38. Other things which also happened but didn’t warrant their own paragraph include activating the anti-skid device on the car and voluntarily eating sprouts outside of the Christmas period. And with six months to go until I reach 39, the world is my oyster.
- I’ve never seen one, have you? Nothing that big can live in the countryside of Essex without being detected. You’ll be trying to convince me that yetis exist next.
- I cannot hear the word ‘puce’ without thinking of Santa Claus the Movie, probably the first time I ever heard the word.