Savini and Me: Part Seven, Age is just a number
Recently, some family members came to visit my wife and I in our home. They are both very kind people, but their health is not as good as could be. The man that visited is sixty-six years old and in declining health. His knees are shot, to the point where I have to offer an arm for him to get up our two steps into the main door. One morning, I walked by their pill containers that were on the table. The sheer amount of pills made me stop in my tracks. I had to count them… seventeen. Not for the day, that was just in the morning. This man had to take almost forty pills a day! Not only that, he got tired easily, got car sick and was getting over a cold that just wouldn’t go away. When we were talking about birthdays, I found out that he was born one month after Tom Savini. This realization floored me.
Being around actors and actresses, I’m used to them being in good shape and looking better than most people their age. They have to, after all. Their work depends on it. Tom though, he is even beyond the expectations of an actor. Tom is the epitome of physical fitness… and the man is sixty-six years old! Of course this doesn’t come without work. Tom runs several miles every morning, has a gym in his house and works out with weights almost daily. He also watches what he eats and takes plenty of vitamins. Tom is what we all should be: healthy.
To motivate himself, besides using roles as his reason to get in shape, Tom sets a yearly goal. On his birthday, he has to take a picture with his shirt off holding his birthday cake. When I first saw a few of these pictures, I thought they were sort of, odd. The pictures look like something that should be on a birthday card saying “I’d bet you’d like a hot guy for your birthday” with some lame joke inside. Regardless of my first reaction, when I learned that Tom used them as his motivation to get in shape and stay in shape, they made sense. If you know you have to take a picture with your shirt off on a certain date, you are more apt to get in shape for that picture. I had a similar situation when I used to work for Marvel Comics as the official Spider-Man. Knowing I had to wear a skin tight body suit in front of thousands of people, or for a commercial, kept me in perfect shape for almost a decade. When I retired from them, that motivation was gone. I gained weight… lots of it. Maybe if I had a tradition, or challenge like Tom does, I’d be in better shape.
The funny thing is, Tom is in such good shape and looks so much younger than he is, it has actually hurt him with a few roles. Tom was up for a role on a major television show recently. The character was supposed to be in his sixties. They loved and wanted him for the role. There was only one problem. Tom didn’t look sixty. Tom wanted the role, so he sent the producers a picture of himself holding his driver’s license, to prove to them that he was sixty-six years old. They responded saying they believed him, but it didn’t change the fact that he just didn’t look old enough to play the role. While his physical fitness worked against him in this case, it usually works for him. This is evident of him still getting roles, physical ones in such films like DJANGO UNCHAINED and others.
Compared to this family visitor I had, Tom was shockingly different. I couldn’t believe that two people could be almost the same age, yet such opposites. Practically the same age and one is being kept alive by pills and the other is in better shape than most twenty-year old models. This realization was a wake-up call for me. Especially after one day at dinner, when I showed Tom a picture of my younger, in shape self. My muscles are cut, rippling and I look amazing. His eyes got wide, he looked at me and then said, “Why don’t you want to look like that again?” I laughed, and responded that I most certainly did, I just didn’t have the motivation anymore. This seemed odd to him, I could see him wondering what I even meant by that. Tom then simply turned the phone towards me, showing me the picture and said, “This is not enough motivation?”
Tom was right. Part of me felt like a fool that I let myself go, but the other part of me felt that small fire to get in shape ignite in me again. Taking care of myself is going to be a new focus in my life, especially since I have twin babies on the way. I want to be able to play with them, chase them around and play sports with them as they grow up. Thankfully, I now have someone to look up to, to help me get to those goals.