My Murtaugh List

A recent episode of How I Met Your Mother explored the idea of what they called “The Murtaugh List,” or rather, a list of things you are officially too old to do (named in honor of Det. Murtaugh in the Leathal Weapon movies).

As Americans are wont to do, I often jokingly bemoan my own aging process.  I am the youngest in my family and have always had (at least) an extra 4 smug years of youth on my siblings to my advantage, but I have recently begun to discover that those 4 years don’t provide a Carte-Blanche-fountain-of-youth. Tonight I have discovered what must be my first pathetic submission to my own Murtaugh List: Climbing 15 ft. fences.

Now, when I was growing up, you could not get me away from heights – trees, stairs, roofs, walls, fences. You name it, I probably climbed it. Looking back as a semi-adult, I cringe for how much I must have terrified my mom.  We had a tree house in the back yard, and a perfect maple tree in front, and I climbed as far up both those as humanly possible.  I have vivid memories of camping and scoping out the highest trees to climb with my cousin. Add onto this all that I was also a gymnast for many years, which led to much swinging and acrobatic activity from 40+ft up.

Apparently I have officially reached the age where I am afraid of falling.  Naivety no longer loans me his cloak of ignorance.

I am aware that I am no longer as flexible, agile, fast, or as overall strong as I was when I was 12.  That’s fine.  If you are, it probably means that it is in some way, shape, or form your job to stay that way.  I’m fine with it though, I’ve matured and grown in other ways.

At the same time, sometimes the patheticness of my own age-based-limitations makes me angry.

Tonight I was annoying the neighborhood by hitting a volleyball against the wall of the school across the street from me.  There’s a large parking lot, so I figured I’d be safe, avoid cars, and not make too much trouble.  Fast forward to 30 minutes later when all of the sudden after a funny bounce off the wall, I pop the ball too far up, and my beautiful, [somewhat] new volleyball floats up… up… and up…

… onto the roof of the first floor landing.

After a few not-so-muttered curses, I realize there are 2 fire escapes which could possibly lead me up onto the roof, but one is closed in by 15 ft metal walls (?), and the other is surrounded by a 15 ft metal fence.  I’d have to somehow scale one of these two walls and then climb onto the fire escape to even have a chance at getting onto the roof.  Realizing I have no chance with the metal wall unless I somehow obtain a large trampoline and a lot of glue, I take my chances with the fence.

And fail.  Multiple times.

In my slight defense, it’s not a traditional chain link fence.  The diamonds of the metal links are much more oblong and are not malleable to the width of your shoe’s toe, and therefore properly wedging yourself in there isn’t as easy.

Sort of like this... only taller

Sort of like this... only taller

(I did recently climbed a fence from 15 ft above the ground to get onto a dam, but that really only involved sideways movement and hanging over a long fall to rocks. There was little upwards motion involved, and a metal bar at the bottom on which to place your feet.)

On the other hand, my upper body strength is apparently non-existent, and therefore I realize I could wax excuses until the cows come home, but they would be merely a conduit to a silver lining/ego-mollify-er.

By my fifth attempt, I had actually learned a bit: I found a traffic horse and dragged it over so I had a good 4 ft platform off the ground before I had to tackle the fence.  I actually made it so that I was able to grab the top bar of the fence with my right arm, and could have hoisted myself up and onto the fire escape.

But damn that stupid age thing.

All I could see were visions of myself hoisting over the fence, onto the fire escape… and then awkwardly finding myself stuck.  Or trying to get down and falling and hitting my head on the asphalt. Or having the cops called on my ass because some neighbor thought I was breaking into the school. Because you know that shit would happen, and then I’d be on the next episode of America’s Dumbest People.

And thus, with much sadness in my creaky heart, climbing 15 ft. fences became the first on my very own Murtaugh List.

Sigh. I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.


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