“Hey Mister, Are You a Creepy Old Guy?”

WrinklesAt 11:59 p.m. on March 30, 2001, I went to bed still considered “cool” by most people’s standards. I awoke the next morning, branded a “creepy old guy.”

What went wrong overnight?

The answer? Multiple factors converged all at once and the inevitable occurred. The person inside my body who once strolled comfortably among people 15 to 20 years younger now triggered Amber Alerts.

Creepy Old Guy syndrome, also referred to as “COG” by Dr. Phil, comes with a long list of physical and social consequences.  The following list is not all-inclusive: chronic diarrhea or constipation or any version in between, headaches, ear ringing, loss of hair, the overnight sensation that construction workers poured concrete into your intestinal tract, the urge to wear jeans with elastic waste bands, mild to moderate mood swings around shuffleboards or bingo cards, and chronic pain in your bunions, hips and eyelashes. Yes, eyelash pain.

These signs and symptoms are often similar to many other mental or physical health conditions, so how can you be sure of a proper COG diagnosis? Take the following test to definitively determine if you’ve become a COG. This assessment is important because no one, not even your wife or best friend, will acknowledge your new status.

Go to a water park by yourself and sit at the pool’s edge near the bottom of the slide where the kids splash out. Try to look normal; playfully dangle your feet in the water. Don’t reach for the children or wave at them. Act like you’re enjoying the sunshine and beautiful day. If park security or city police show up within two minutes, you’re a COG.

I’ve asked several geriatric psychologists if there’s any way to reverse Creepy Old Guy syndrome. Their responses were both disheartening, yet hopeful. No, COG cannot be cured. But I learned that COG syndrome is actually the first phase of another senior ailment, which is an advanced stage of COG.

What’s next on the horizon? The sudden transformation into “old frail elderly guy.” It’s similar to “creepy old guy” except the afflicted typically move 2 mph slower while walking at the mall, display more than six visible liver spots during the summer months and develop the propensity amongst strangers to reminisce out loud about how far they used to walk to grade school each day. This advanced condition can also be accompanied by frequent debates with yourself about which stool softener product is the best value for your buck.

Here’s the most conclusive test to determine if you’ve transitioned to “frail elderly” status.  Again, visit a waterslide park and repeat the same steps for determining a COG impairment. This time, add a bag of candy and cradle it under your arm.  Pass out a few samples to kids, even if they don’t ask for a piece. If nothing happens – if kids don’t scream their safe word, if parents don’t mace or taser you and if a SWAT team doesn’t repel down in front of you – then you’ve become frail elderly guy. Society now considers you completely harmless. You’re as scary and threatening as a bunt pan or beach ball. And the metamorphosis probably occurred as fast as the jump from cool dude to creepy old guy.

In closing, I have some poignant advice for anyone over 40 who currently believes he’s still living the cool dude life. Invest in a cryogenic machine. Install it, get in, press the on button and keep dreaming the dream.

(next post: "Stiff Neck")