09/17/2012 01:49 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2012

The Annoying Weird Science of Older-ness

There were a lot of times during my childhood when I observed people in the 'Golden Year' category having trouble accomplishing some small, trivial procedure. It often happens at family gatherings. An adult will take a kid aside and say, "Could you go over there and help Uncle Doogy? He just dropped the ladle into the punch bowl."

Now, as I find myself experiencing these mortifying moments firsthand, I've come up with a semi-scientific theory to explain why they seem to occur more frequently in the upper age brackets.

I think what happens is this: After being alive for more than 50 years, the human body undergoes subtle, complex electro-gravitational-magnetic changes that cause basic laws of nature to become distorted so that simple activities are transformed into embarrassing mishaps. It's a powerful force that makes me look like a dolt.

Here's an example: I'm pouring a small amount of cream into my morning coffee, and as the last trace of cream enters the cup the mysterious energy emanating from my torso creates a vortex in the surface tension of the mixture. Then, as I watch in amazement, a tiny backsplash occurs and ejects a droplet of creamy coffee, a droplet that arcs upward and deposits itself directly on my nice clean shirt.

To complete the humiliation of the scenario, another person usually walks in about three seconds later and says, "Wow, how'd you manage to spill coffee on yourself so fast?"

There's no plausible answer. You can't say, "I didn't spill anything. The coffee was being manipulated independently by a force we don't yet understand." I've tried it and nobody believes me. The only solution is to be extra-cautious every time an innocuous little task presents itself, especially ones that involve measuring and pouring liquids.

Here's another little blunder-in-the-making: a bowl of bran flakes for breakfast. How could that possibly get screwed up? It goes haywire because the flakes can pile up in such a way as to support each other. So when a stream of milk descends from the carton and strikes the first flake, it meets solid resistance and the flow instantly changes direction, cascading over the edge of the bowl and forming a puddle on the kitchen counter.

More and more the phrase "Am I losing my grip?" comes to mind, and sometimes the answer is, "Yes, literally, you are!" Taking pills is when this problem strikes me. The aspirin tablets I prefer have an easy-to-swallow coating, which means if I press too hard with my thumb and forefinger when moving the tablet toward my mouth, it can go shooting out of my grasp like a wet watermelon seed.

If I'm in the bathroom, the path of the airborne aspirin will carry it directly into the toilet bowl. In the kitchen, there can be some Vegas-style action. The pill hits in the sink, bounces around a few times like the marble in a roulette wheel, and ends up sliding into the garbage disposal. And no, I do not reach in to find it. You never know when a rogue surge of electric current might activate those whirling blades spontaneously. The only reason I'd ever put my hand into the garbage disposal is to rescue a kitten or some other lovable living creature.

Every time one of these ridiculous events occurs I think, "How could that possibly happen?" There's no way I could flick an aspirin tablet into the garbage disposal from four feet away on purpose if I tried for two million years. But thanks to the weird science of older-ness I am now able to accomplish all kinds of dumb, demoralizing stunts without even trying.

An annoying, uncontrollable force is with me, and I wish it would go somewhere else.