I took my pants off the other day and after a good long look I realized, to my horror, that I’ve got chicken legs, you know: old-man legs.

It was never like this. My legs were the pride of my rugged physique: muscular, rotund, curvaceous where befitting and chiseled in all the right places. They were athletic legs from running, tennis and biking. They were backcountry forester’s legs from hiking and wilderness treks. They were first-responder legs from chasing chaparral fires up mountainous terrain where only first-class legs could get you there and back out again.

Now, suddenly, it seems I have old-man legs. You know what I’m talking about: you’ve seen the old geezer at the beach whose aged legs make his shorts look too big. It seems the old man could easily fit both his legs into one . . . into one side of the shorts. (I know: he could put both legs into “one short” which is half a pair of shorts. That’s logically correct but, oh no, not semantically. It’s English so just work with me here.)

My old-man legs are a shade of pasty-white. That’s what I get from not exposing them to the sun. But leading such a rough-and-tumble life, I’ve got to protect them with long pants to ward off the ticks, poison ivy and flying debris. I won’t wear shorts when jetting around LAX with my jetpack. That would be taking unnecessary risk.

I’ve noticed that most all of the youthful hair is gone from my legs. They were never overly furry and Wookie-like but they used to have a masculine amount of hair certifying health and virility. What happened? The doctor blamed this one on poor circulation: clinic talk for old age.

Funny, I bike quite a bit and it seems most of my blood is going to my leg muscles, especially on those brutal hill climbs. You would think there would be enough blood to promote some of that leg hair. Is the loss of hair from my head from poor circulation too? Let’s hope not.

The legs are looking pretty beat up. It looks like I took a tumble from a moving car into a briar patch, which hasn’t happened in months. There are cuts and scratches, scabs, insect bites and scars enough for a platoon. Some nights they itch . . . no, not the platoon, the legs, and sometimes the scratching gets a little too vigorous on the thin skin. Since the blood circulation leaves something to be desired, the scratches don’t heal very fast. Not long ago I had tough hairy leg skin that was not easily damaged. I could scratch my legs all night long and it wouldn’t leave a mark but there was no point to it because they didn’t itch.

Finally, my new legs seem a little scrawny — oh, they’re still rather muscular or I wouldn’t be able to power up those hills on my bike but, to my experienced eye, which is also not that young, there appears to be some muscle loss.

Men peak with muscle mass at age 30; afterwards, they typically lose up to 5% per decade. Do the math: you will have zero muscle mass in 200 years. Who made up that dumb rule? Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their life.

There is a medical name for age-related muscle loss: sarcopenia. It’s hard to tell if sarcopenia is a disease or a “condition” where older people lose muscle tissue sort of like they tend to lose car keys, cell phones and hair.

The web is full of advice about reversing age-related muscle mass loss but it involves a workout program with a personal trainer and doing “sets” with “reps” so many times a week. There is also talk of protein powder. Like I’m ever going to buy protein powder.

Is this what aging is all about: death by a thousand little surprises? Oh look, my hair is falling out; I can’t see or hear as well as I used to; no, I can’t jump off the back of the truck any more with a 50-pound pack. You get up one morning and discover you have chicken legs.

My wife still has fabulous dancer’s legs and laughing eyes. But she will always have that as far as I’m concerned. I can only hope her eyesight and memory conspire to make her think I’m still a hunk, chicken legs and all.