Freshman year, my suitemates and I routinely stayed up past 4 a.m., trying to impress each other with our argumentative abilities and our knowledge of SAT words.

Sophomore year, my suitemates and I routinely stayed up past 3 a.m., playing video games and eating sandwiches from Krauszer’s.

Junior year, my roommate and I routinely stayed up past 2 a.m., doing homework.

This, my senior year, I routinely stay up until 10:30 p.m., at which point I take two Centrum Silvers and carefully climb into my Craftmatic II adjustable bed.

How did I get so old? My transition from strapping young lad to decrepit old coot occurred with surprising rapidity.

A couple of weeks ago, Davenport had a bowling trip to Amity Lanes. I managed to injure myself. No, I wasn’t drunk. No, I wasn’t goofing off. I was simply bowling and I pulled a muscle. It hurt so bad I had to stop. Apparently, I can no longer handle such strenuous physical activity.

I can’t eat the foods I used to. Ask anyone — I was an eating machine up until last year. Six chicken breasts, a big plate of pasta, a bowl of soup, two glasses of orange juice and one of milk, and a smoothie or milk shake for dessert. I’m not saying I don’t still eat that much. But now, it stays in my system for three weeks and gives me lots of gas.

It gets worse. I’m losing my hair. Not body hair, mind you. I’ve got enough of that to share with everyone. No, I’m talking about the hair on my head.

Losing one’s hair at 21 is not an easy process to go through. I’ve become paranoid. I shake my head over my desk and count the hairs that fall out. I don’t let my girlfriend run her fingers through my hair anymore. My worst nightmare was realized when my 6-foot, 5-inch, 290-pound little sib put me in a headlock and gave me a noogie.

If I could just skip ahead to the Sean Connery “bald is sexy” stage, I would. Unfortunately, every balding man must first go through awkward, decidedly unsexy stages like the guy in your English class who always wears the baseball cap and the professor whose hairline has receded only halfway to his neck.

It has been suggested to me that I simply shave my head so it looks like I’m bald “on purpose.” But I don’t think I have the confidence to go out in public in my birthday scalp. My friend in high school shaved his head for the basketball team and he looked like an unpopular alien. For all I know, under the hair I have left I may have some hideous Gorbachevesque birthmark.

So I’m thinking about other options. Right away, I made myself promise I’d never be one of those guys who gets butt hair surgically implanted on his head.

But the other forms of treatment aren’t all that enticing. My doctor warned me that Rogaine is not that effective and the hair it grows often “doesn’t look the same as the hair you used to have” — in other words, it looks like surgically implanted butt hair. Propecia — the hair growth-promoting pill — is apparently so toxic that pregnant women can’t even touch it, and there’s talk that it makes men sterile. Sounds like a chemical weapon to me.

“But what about spray-on hair?” you ask. Yes, it is true that spray-on hair is one of the best products on the market. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come in my color.

I think my eyesight is going too, but it’s not just my body that’s getting old. My mind is also showing signs of age. I used to have a vocabulary of 20,000 impressive words like “plethora” and “orangutan;” but at last check, I’m down to 743 words and several dozen variations on the grunt, such as the groan, the moan and the oft-used “hhhnnnnnhhuuuhhhhh.”

I can no longer tolerate loud music. I’m suspicious of freshmen in large groups — “they’re up to no good,” I usually conclude. I’ve developed an affinity for Grape Nuts. My memory often fails me. I can no longer tolerate loud music.

There’s also evidence that in my old age I’m becoming a little too set in my ways — my last column was called “xenophobic,” “ignorant,” “narrow-minded” and “hateful.” And that was my column about how much I love reruns of “Matlock.” Imagine what people thought about my column on Texans.

When I was younger, I thought that becoming 21 was a symbol of youthful independence and responsibilities. Free at last to go wherever I wish, drink whatever I order, gamble away whatever allowance I have left. Instead, I find myself wondering when I’ll have time to just sit, relax and do nothing.

If this is the exciting life that the age of 21 had in store for me, God help me when I’m 42.

JP Nogues is a senior in Davenport College.