West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Growing Old with Brett Favre

Packers, Personal, Fun

Interestingly enough, Brett Favre and I have a couple of things in common: 1) We have big birthdays coming up this month, although Brett’s seems more nationally significant and mine is merely the end of an era. 2) We’re both battling the same demons – time and gravity – and those two are perhaps scarier than a blindside defensive blitz. Nevertheless, as Brett and I begin our “farewell tours,” I can’t help but consider the implications.

To be honest, I’ve never been overly preoccupied with my looks. I do try to look decent, wear clothes that won’t embarrass my daughter, shower daily, eat moderately healthy and run around enough on a tennis court to consider it exercise. But I’ve never been obsessed with looking “young” or being supermodel thin. The idea of undergoing surgery to do something that would make people raise an eyebrow and whisper behind my back is unappealing. So is coloring my hair. In my opinion, nothing is less attractive than someone over 40 with hair darker than an Elvis impersonator on the Vegas Strip. That is why I live in Milwaukee and not Hollywood.

But I digress. Brett’s about to turn 40 which, in the NFL, is rarely seen unless you’re a lowly field goal kicker. Playing at his age, without ever stopping, is an unbelievable accomplishment. (I personally would rather that he were playing in his backyard in Mississippi in a pair of Wranglers but the needy Vikings called and the rest is history.)

I, on the other hand, am starting my final year of the same decade, which is why I refer to this as my “farewell tour.” The difference between Brett and I is that he’s saying goodbye to his career and I am merely saying goodbye to the first half of my life. Yes, you heard it here first – I’m going to live to be 100. I have neither evidence nor guarantee, but I’m pretty sure if I’m living under that assumption, everything will seem a LOT better.

The problem is, Father Time and Mother Gravity are waging war on my very imperfect body. The creaky knees and the achy back are far more constant companions than I’d like to admit. Of course, if I didn’t have a propensity to enjoy good wine, good beer and other assorted non-complex carbohydrates, things would probably improve.

The odds are against me, I know. Then again, the odds have always been against Favre too – with his shortened intestines, former addiction to painkillers and the good life, unorthodox throwing motion and need to stay in the spotlight. I, on the other hand, may fall victim to the ravages of disease or misfortune…or I may not.

I feel introspective about the first 49 years of my life. They’ve been, at times - awesome, terrible, ecstatic, devastating but, above all – interesting. I’d take 49 more in a heartbeat with the wish that I could do a little editing along the way. Conversely, Favre has had a career that has been – astonishing, amazing, spectacular, a little disappointing, yet enviable. When his career is over, it is unlikely that anything will compare, which is why he’s hanging on to the final moments before they’re ripped out of his aging hands. In that respect, I actually feel far luckier than Brett Favre. I have never had people wearing clothing with my name on it, but I also take far less risks than Favre and am paid far less than he is….and I’m OK with that. Basically, you can’t miss what you’ve never had.

I’ve seen interviews with people over the age of 100 and it always seems like they say living in moderation is the key to longevity. I’d say moderation is a good way to describe my life (which might be why I’m banking on another 51 years.) I’ve had fun, sadness, excitement and adventure in moderate amounts. I wouldn’t say that Brett could say the same and I yet I wouldn’t trade places for any price.

Happy birthday, Brett, from a fellow Libran. I’ve used this space to beat you up a bit and I’d like to thank you for giving me an extra reader or two. Here in my house, your jersey is already retired (although not yet burned.) I wish you luck in life, but not on the playing field. You see, I’m a Packer fan and old enough to know better.

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