I received an e-mail from my old friend Bruce Barr. He divides his time between fishing in British Columbia, golfing and working out in Borrego Springs, Calif., and skiing in Sun Valley.
He was complaining about a friend who suffers from a near terminal disease he calls macho-nucleosis. I'd never heard of this disease. So I went to my library of books about skiing, geology, oceanography and life in the old days in Montana and other fields of interest that I have.
One of my favorites is "Artificial Joint Replacement for Beginners." It was stored right alongside a rare copy of "Is Skiing Here To Stay?" I thumbed through both and found nothing about the disease. I almost overlooked my copy of "Post Operation Behavioral Modification" where I finally found a clear definition of macho-nucleosis.
"It is most frequently found in athletes who try to ignore their birthdays. They have to be first in any athletic endeavor in which they are involved. They have the symptom of knowing the least about what they're talking about and talking the loudest about it."
< "If they are a macho skier or snowboarder, they will always have to be the first one to the bottom of the hill. If they're a macho-nucleosis surfer or windsurfer, they will have to be the first one in the water when the wind comes up and the last out as darkness nears. At night when the bragging gets louder they will have ridden the biggest wave of the day, no matter what beach they surfed."
As a triple-digit golfer experienced in searching for lost balls, I can hear them over my shoulder hollering, "Do you mind if we play through?" When the foursome of macho-nucleosis golfers begins to catch up, you can smell them long before they arrive because they smoke big black cigars. They also carry big, expensive and heavy leather golf bags with the name of the clubs they use written in letters you can read from some distance.
Macho-nucleosis sufferers will drive the biggest pickup truck in the Costco parking lot. If he has made a lot of money in whatever he does or did for a living, he might be driving a yellow or red Humvee while wearing a matching colored parka. He will make his spousal equivalent, which sometimes might be his wife, go inside and do the shopping. His vehicle will have a vanity license plate or bumper sticker that says things such as Skier, Snowboarder, Honk if You Like Tno Bowl, Surf for Jesus or other such inspirational messages.
One unfortunate side effect of macho-nucleosis is a continuing case of bragging about how he can still beat his kids down the hill on a powder day. That's where I draw the line—two of the proudest days of my life were when I could no longer keep up with my children on the side of a mountain. The other day was when I watched them do things surfing that I was already too old to try to do.
Any macho-nucleosis sufferer will always say, "I can ski, surf, play golf or whatever as well at 40 as I could when I was 20." All I can say about that is, "If this is true you were sure lousy at 20." Get used to it! Birthdays are not only numbers. Each takes away some percentage of your coordination no matter how bad you suffer from macho-nucleosis.