An aching back has kept me from playing basketball.
A well-documented love affair with cheese has made this inactivity dangerous to my midsection.
Like many men, I wrinkle my brow with concern when my size 33 waist opens new fronts in its war against my size 32 pants. And like many men, the wrinkle in my brow momentarily diverts my attention from my expanding belly.
I further mirror men my age when I say that a slightly aging body might be enough to give me pause, but it's not enough to get me into the gym for three or four hours a week. Not yet anyway.
Now it seems there's another option available to me-it involves money instead of time and blood instead of sweat, and it's called elective cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic surgery has always been available, but liposuction, tummy tucks, silicone implants and face-lifts have always been procedures more likely to be undertaken by women.
According to the Miami Herald, that is no longer the case.
A recent story claims that 807,692 men underwent surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures last year, nearly a 200 percent increase from 1997, as reported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Maybe men are different in Miami. Or maybe I don't hang out in a high-class enough crowd to know anybody who can afford almost $4,000 for a chest augmentation or $2,500 for liposuction.
It sounds borderline ridiculous, but as men veer dangerously toward embodying a vanity once unique to the fairer sex, nothing is out of bounds.
Not even plastic pectoral muscles.
Not even bun enhancements.
Of course, this sounds patently unnatural to most guys, but a Miami physician notes that it is equally unnatural to spend three hours a day pumping iron and shooting oneself full of steroids in order to obtain the perfectly chiseled chest and abs.
This trend likely will develop more fully among middle-aged men seeking to augment the culmination of their professional peaks with expensive tributes to their physical peaks. The midlife crises of old meant a red convertible sports car and expensive clothes; now it will be to iron out a sagging chin.
Perhaps now is a good time to sell my shares of Porsche and reinvest that money in outpatient surgery centers-because one of the reasons these procedures are becoming more acceptable is that men don't have to endure hospital stays requiring absences from their professional or social lives. A man can have his face fixed and be on the street that day and back on the tennis court in two weeks to a cheering crowd of friends wondering if he got his hair cut or if he just discovered Viagra.
But he probably won't tell.
It seems that men prefer to keep their enhancements to themselves whereas everyone knows at least one breast-implanted woman who wants to show the world her new "look."
In time, we will get used to the fact that men are as worried about aging as women.
It used to be that gray temples and a weathered face were sexy signs of maturity. No longer.
If men keep battling back the natural aging process, none of us will be able to be comfortable with our laugh lines and paunches. The man who doesn't attempt to reverse the ravages of time will be seen as a man who doesn't care about himself. And if there's one thing modern Americans have been taught, it's that if you don't care about yourself, then you don't care about anyone else.
What could be less sexy than that?
(Eric Edwards, who would rather have a Porsche than a stiff chin, writes for The Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at The Orlando Sentinel, 633 N. Orange Ave., MP 240, Orlando, Fla., 32801. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(c) 2003, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.