The realization that I’m officially closer to 50 than I am to 18 hit me while I was playing basketball last week. My legs were feeling especially springy, so I decided to actually try to dunk instead of doing the nonchalant, rim-grab, “almost” dunk thing I do to convince people—myself included—that I can still dunk if I sincerely try.
So I tried.
And then this happened.
Which then made me think about the last dunk I made, and that if I knew my last dunk would be my last dunk, I would have recorded it. And blogged about it. And perhaps even invited each of the female friends in my MySpace top 8 to witness it.
And then I thought of my favorite dunk ever. Where it occurred (on the “high” hoop on the main courts outside Reizenstein Middle School in Pittsburgh). Who it was on (some guy). How old I was when it happened (18). And then how vivid that memory is, how close 18 seems, how far away it actually is and how 50 is officially a closer age now.
And then I sat on a bleacher and adjusted my knee brace. And cried.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being 50; 50 is the s—t. And being a 50-year-old black man is especially awesome because it means 1) you’re a black man who made it to 50, which is deserving of at least a Panera gift card and a lap dance from Erica Mena; and 2) YOU GET TO BE A 50-YEAR-OLD BLACK MAN.
If you’re wondering why I have the second half of that sentence in all caps, you obviously don’t know any 50-year-old black men. Because if you did, you’d understand. Because you’d know that 50-year-old black men are the best and most entertaining people on earth. Why? Well, no one gives less f—ks than a black man who somehow made it to 50, as evidenced by Barack Obama on a daily basis.
Seriously, think of all the people in your life who are truly and sincerely f—k devoid. Now tell me how many of them are black men who happen to be older than 50. If your answer to the first question is “10,” your answer to your second question is probably either “eight” or “nine.”
Anyway, I’ve waited my entire life to be a 50- and 60- and 70-year-old black man, so I can do things 50- and 60- and 70-year-old black men do, such as:
1. Hang out in Home Depot so much that you go to Home Depot specifically to buy s—t you should be buying somewhere else, like Snickers bars and Valentine’s Day cards.
2. When annoyed, refer to women as “woman.” And say things like, “Didn’t I tell you, woman, to get 80/20 ground beef instead of this lean meat s—t? I can’t do nothing on the grill with this lean meat s—t.”
3. Also say things like, “They moved Burn Notice? I thought it came on at 8?” and “Woman, don’t you see I’m watching Burn Notice? The garbage will still be there after Burn Notice is off.”
4. Coach a rec league or pee-wee football team, and then morph into a permanent coach—the guy who wears his “coach clothes” (a visor, a pair of sunglasses on the visor, a pair of tear-away sweatpants, a polo shirt with a sports team’s logo on it, a whistle and Mike Tomlin’s haircut) everywhere.
5. Deep-fry a turkey while topless.
6. Deep-fry a turkey while topless and yelp every seven minutes when turkey grease lands on your chest.
7. Carry a permanent countenance that vacillates between slightly bemused and slightly irritated. Basically, just think of every face Ben Carson has ever made.
8. Finally be able to watch and appreciate Westerns.
9. Finally be able to listen to and appreciate jazz.
10. Attend a white party on a boat without feeling like a cornball for attending a white party on a boat.
11. Be racist. Not racist racist, but racist enough to say “white motherf—kers” at least twice a day and not have anyone bat an eye.
12. Grill everything. You brought a ham? Let’s put it on the grill! Corn? On the grill! Waffles? On the grill! Lunch meat? On the grill! Chili? On the grill! You made some lasagna? Throw that bitch on the grill to give it a nice little crisp. Couscous? I don’t even know what that is, but s—t, why not?
13. Drive without actually looking at the road. This—drive while holding a conversation with a person in the passenger seat and actually turning to look at that person when they’re talking to you—is one of those things done in movies that can never actually be done in real life. Unless, of course, you’re a 50-year-old black man. Because if you’re a 50-year-old black man, you have actual conversations with people on the corner and still not crash your CT6.
14. Take literally one step on the dance floor and have everyone say, “Uh oh. It’s about to go down!”
15. After taking that one step on the dance floor, take literally one more step and call it “dancing.”
16. Spend approximately 40 percent of every waking hour on the toilet. Not actually going to the bathroom, though, but reading the paper, paying the gas bill, doing the crossword, hiding from the wife person and sleeping.
17. Finally be handsome. Not like Denzel handsome, but “I’m a grown-ass man and ain’t nothing ‘cute’ about me” handsome. Basically, be like Danny Glover. (Side note: Everyone talks about how Morgan Freeman has been 70 for 50 years, but no one talks about how Danny Glover has been 50 for 70 years. We need to start giving Danny Glover that middle-aged-black-male-vampire love, too!)
18. You know how, if someone calls you and you happen to be ’sleep, you might pick up the phone and lie and say no if they ask, “Did I wake you up?” Well, 50-year-old black men don’t do that. You ask, “Did I wake you up?” and the answer will be, “Yes, n—ga. What do you want?”
19. Have an excuse not to play any defense while playing basketball. Although I actually can’t play defense now, at my age, I’m still expected to. At 50, though, every steal is a surprise. A gift.
20. Sit on the porch doing nothing, have someone ask, “Hey, are you busy?” and reply, “Yes” and have it not be a lie because “sitting on the porch doing nothing” is actually something you’re actively doing.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.