With age, apparently, comes wisdom. I am a textbook case of the antithesis of this little pearl of knowledge.
I admit that despite passing the half-way mark to the century of life, I have done an admirable job at stubbornly hanging on to a younger me, at least in attitude and behaviour.
But I think I’m beginning to bore from the fight, or maybe I’m just getting too old to pretend that I’m too youthful to be 50. There have been some signs lately that make me think that it’s time to embrace the inevitable.
For those who don’t know me personally, I ‘transitioned’ from strawberry blonde (ok, RED), to a bright white at an early age…way too early an age! This is one of the hereditary traits my brothers and I got from our father, but we haven’t held much of a grudge about it, except for the occasional bad dye job. There’s something about knowing you get to do the same to your offspring that takes the sting out of it. Sorry kids!
I had a brief period when meeting new people, they thought I was naturally a blonde. Lucky for me, there was always a good friend nearby to set them straight…”Blonde? Yeah, right!”. Bummer.
Since then, I’ve had to deal with a barrage of ego-busting comments. The most painful are the ones offered up innocently. Deliberate insults are expected – at least between guys. Innocent comments really hurt.
Getting a hair cut, I was asked by a stylist much older than myself, if I was going to be getting the ‘seniors discount’. WHAT??? Maybe she was hitting on me or something. It didn’t work. And she didn’t get a tip!
Several years ago, I was taking my daughter to swimming lessons at the local rec center. While she swam, I would sit in the bleachers and watch or read a book, or do work. At the end of the lessons, they had a ‘meet the instructor’ night. My daughter was excited to have me come over, and told the instructor that her Dad was there to observe.
The instructor, about 17 at best, and clearly lacking any age judgement at all, responded to my daughter by saying, ‘Oh, that’s nice, since your grandfather has been bringing you all this time’. OUCH!!
I know at least one of my brothers has faced the same type of age discrimination comments themselves. The other ones had the bad dye jobs.
It’s really not fair, either. Except for the hair, I bet I could pass for someone 10 years younger. In fact, even at this ‘mature’ age, I still struggle with zits. I mean, come on!! Grey hair and pimples? God really does have a good sense of humor. Me? Not so much.
It’s been a hot summer so far, and with my fair skin, sunscreen and a good hat is the only defense against spontaneous human combustion in the blazing sun.
Ball caps are okay, but don’t cover my big ears or the back of my neck, so I went out shopping for a larger hat. This is where I started to struggle with the demons of age vs youthfulness. This is also where I realized what a funny shaped head I have. It’s not that big, but it’s kind of long from front to back, so hats usually look ridiculous on me, like I’m a little kid wearing an adult hat. Because of my head shape, though, I still need a large hat or it won’t fit my football shaped skull.
I’m not really much of a country fan, so a typical cowboy style hat is out. The kind that Chi Chi Rodrigues wore looks cool, but I’m not Chi Chi Rodruques, and I don’t have his shape of head. Besides, I could never pull off his kind of cool.
So, now I’m looking at myself in the mirror, wearing one of those Tilly style hats with a chin strap, and the brims that buckle to the side, like some old Englishman on safari in Africa.
Standing in a store with this goofy headdress on, looking in a mirror and I’m thinking, ‘hey this is functional, practical, and it actually fits my head’.
Are you kidding me? When did this happen? When did I go from style-conscious to frumpy? Did I just grow some man-boobs, and decide that as long as I’m comfortable, it doesn’t matter what I look like?
Am I going to get one of those cozy blankets with the sleeves, start wearing a fanny-pack, and cutting my hair with a ‘Flow-bee’ attached to the vacuum cleaner?
These transitions should take years – even decades to develop. This new practical side of me just showed up one day. No warning, no gradual metamorphosis from a butterfly to a dull ugly old caterpillar. Just wham.
Of course, I bought the hat. AND IT WAS ON SALE! Woo Hoo! My wife even snapped up one of the sides to make me look authentic. Now I resembled that old side-kick guy on Crocodile Dundee for Pete’s sake. All I needed was an ascot and khaki’s. Actually, that sounds pretty good!
There I go again – totally lost my youthful edge. I might just start shopping for some nice black knee-high socks to go with my sandals, and get those huge wrap around sun glasses that you wear right over your prescription lenses. Now that’s a look!
Fashion isn’t even the worst of it. Now I find myself trying to get free stuff from my neighbours, as if I’m some pensioner who went through the Great Depression or something. ‘That’s a perfectly good shoe, hardly worn out. Left right there on the side of the road. I wonder what size it is?’…and I’m excited about it!
I actually got a total stranger down the street to give me a half-yard of limestone so I could do some landscaping in my backyard. ‘Say, I see you’ve been doing some stone work’ (while leaning on the excess pile of limestone in his driveway). “I was thinking of doing a little work myself”. “How much does this limestone cost, anyway?”
Next thing I know, I’ve brokered a deal to take home everything he didn’t use…for FREE!
Sure, it’s great, right? But at what point did I decide that instead of just going down to the garden center and getting my own dirt, I would strike up a conversation, hoping to get free things from people? Young people don’t do this. Old people do.
You know what else old people do? Yard sales!! Oh, baby! You could spend an entire weekend, driving at half the posted speed limit with your hazard lights on, trolling the suburban landscape looking for 10 cent treasures. And the greatest thing about yard sale shopping? It’s a license to park right in the middle of the street.
You could legitimately hold up an entire fire department if there’s some good finds on the lawn. It helps if you’re driving a beige Buick.
Here’s a tip for you: people will tell you that you should get there early, but the really wise shopper knows that they get desperate at the end of the day. No one wants to put that junk back in the garage! That’s the time to bargain – they’re practically giving the stuff away…and you’d still be home in time to have supper at 4 o’clock.
Oh God, someone help me….