There is just about nothing I could do when I was 16 that I cannot do now … except hang-up calls and the splits. I can’t explain to my children the sheer innocent malice of hang-up calls, a simple pleasure robbed from them by caller ID.
Certain physical activities (such as doing splits) are best avoided after age 50. — Getty Images
But I digress.
There are things I did at 16 so excruciating in retrospect that simply thinking about them in that shadow hour before dawn causes me to make the sound you make when you hit your tailbone really hard — more than a moan, less than a shriek.
Some of my friends still can do splits. One even played a starring role in a French farce (requiring splits and a harem costume) that she first acted in 25 years ago. When I cried, “Brava!” I was cheering for her just-plain moxie. But, also, I was cheering for my just-plain joy that it was she rather than I up there in the I Dream of Jeannie outfit, sliding slowly into that really precarious position, as we all held our collective breath.
Last summer, when my brother did the limbo, I had similar agita. Now, my brother is a hockey ref. He’s fit, flexible and only recently 50. In this case, his feat was perhaps technically more egregious since it was not tropical-resort limbo, but graduation-barbecue-suburban-lawn limbo; the question “How low can you go?” was as much philosophical as physical.
How low he could go, in other words, had as much to do with the comfort of his teenage children (who, with their friends, made likeSecretariat for the nearest break in the hedge) as it had to do with my brother.