Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The doctor's diagnosis is in: I'm a rust bucket

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I was stretched out in one of those medical-style reclining chairs Tuesday, staring up at the ceiling while the foot doctor frowned at the appendages attached to the ends of my legs.

He was buzzing away with a medical-grade belt sander, grinding away lumps of callous that did not resemble human feet, when he felt compelled to offer an insightful medical observation.

"Doug, you're a lot like an old car."

I took a moment to think about what this medical opinion might mean before offering the following witty reply: "Huh?"

That is when the foot doctor explained: "You're like an old car. You know, you've reached the point where you spend more time in the garage getting fixed up than you spend on the road."

My foot doctor had a solid medical reason for making this statement: He hates me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he could not be more correct.

You young readers with your Twitter accounts and your baseball hats on backwards will not like to hear this, but as your body begins to age and your warranty expires, valuable parts you previously thought were firmly attached to your chassis begin to fall off along the heavily potholed road of life and the grease-stained mechanics trying to clean up your corroded spark plugs inform you with misty eyes you are no longer insurable.

I'd like to give everyone a moment to appreciate the beauty of that last paragraph, but, sadly, we don't have time for that.

And so, while the foot doctor carved away at the less attractive portions of my feet with his scalpel, I made a mental list of all the things wrong with my rapidly aging body, including: Achilles tendon torn twice (once playing softball with NHL players and once taking part in a relay race where I had to decorate a cake while wearing oven mitts); left arm that looks like a snake beaten to death with a golf club after I got it caught in a wrought-iron railing while chasing my errant dogs; two knees that creak like poorly installed hardwood floors; and bloodshot eyeballs that can no longer read restaurant menus unless the letters are the size of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive line.

It then dawned on me: If I were a car, I would be the 1978 AMC Pacer, a vehicle so undeniably ugly that, in a recent poll by an insurance firm, it was selected as the worst designed car of all time, one the survey described, and I will quote it directly, as "a glassine bolus of dorkiness."

Like a flat tire, I was feeling a tad deflated, which is when my foot doctor, as he blasted away at my feet with what felt like a military-grade flamethrower, offered another opinion.

"You need to grow old gracefully, Doug," is what he advised, popping his masked face above my heavily perspiring toes.

Again, I took a moment to ponder his medical meaning. "OK," I grunted, "How do I do that?"

He looked surprised I didn't know the answer. "By being more accepting," he sniffed, wistfully. "You have to go with the flow, so to speak."

So that's what I attempted to do. I accepted that my body, in mechanical terms, has become a rust bucket that requires a highly trained team of automotive technicians to help it get out of bed in the morning, but then I made a mental list of the portions of my anatomy that are still roadworthy.

The first top-notch body part that came to mind was my lips. If you take a moment to look at the photo attached to my column logo, you will notice I have awesome lips. I have never had a problem with my lips, other than the time I was 17 and worked at a camp where, thanks to constant exposure to the sun, they turned black and fell off. But that was a minor hiccup. My lips are so fabulous that shoppers will point me out to their children as I stroll confidently through the mall.

"Do you see that man?" they will say to their kids. "He has the best lips in all of Canada."

In contrast, and I hate to point fingers, the people in Vancouver, where I recently spent my vacation, have truly terrible lips. I learned that while having breakfast at a waterfront restaurant, where an overly friendly waiter bemoaned the overly plump lips of his hip West Coast customers.

"The problem," he told us with a conspiratorial look, "is they get their lips pumped full of Botox, so when they try to talk you can't understand a word they're saying because their lips are so puffy."

So, yes, race fans, I may have a few too many miles on me, but if anyone tries to criticize my youthful lips, they don't have a foot to stand on. And that comes from the heart, which should be out of the shop later this week.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2014 A2

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