Mentally I feel young. Not 18 young, but, say, 32 young. My interests are the same – books, music, movies – as they were when I was a teenager. Age has allowed me to read more, hear more and watch more. That’s the only difference.
I still dress the same. Jeans, shorts, T-shirts. There’s a certain immaturity to that, I know, but I simply don’t care about clothes. Never have, never will. However, I just had a moment that may change my ways.
There’s nothing more pathetic than a middle-aged person desperately trying to connect with teenagers. I don’t mean in a creepy way, but in a way that reeks of a “hey, I’m not that much older than you” vibe. I don’t go for that, but my music and movie tastes tend to bridge the generation gap. But I am older than these kids, 30 years older, and though we may share some likes, I’m finding it unhealthy to believe that, let’s face it, I’m very old in their eyes.
I’ve been thinking about who in my life was 48 when I was 18, and you know what, they were friggin’ old! Granted, they listened to Mantovani and watched Marcus Welby, MD, and that made them seem older still, but facts are facts. No matter how youthful my brain thinks it is, the rest of me isn’t.
So here’s what happened. I was wearing my T-shirt with Jeff Bridge’s giant Dude character, and my favorite quote from The Big Lebowski underneath: “Man, I hate the f***ing Eagles!” Robbie had borrowed it and worn it to school a couple of weeks ago and got into a bit of trouble over its slight offensives. I wore it last week, which was fine because, as usual, I was staying home. A call from Joey, “I forgot my French books,” precipitated a drive to school.
I didn’t think about the shirt until I got out of my car. Robbie and his classmates were hanging out for a creative writing class on the grassy circle in the parking lot. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, I felt embarrassed about what I was wearing. True or not, I felt like an aging hipster; there’s nothing worse than that. When I dropped off Joey’s books at the front desk, I made sure to cover up as much of the risqué message. I got home and felt, for the first time in my life, that perhaps I should start acting my age.
I think it comes down to accepting that almost 50 is not the new 30. It’s the same old 50. Not that I want to do anything about it. The classic “middle age crisis” – divorce, young girlfriend, new car, second marriage, etc. – is completely perplexing to me, though I see it around me. All of that would only make a person feel older, right? Isn’t that the opposite of what’s being sought? And it’s not that I look back on the me of 20, 25, 30, and wish I were that guy again. Maybe no age fits me that well.
I’m not of the “hope I die before I get old” crowd; that ship has long sailed (though the thought of living close to the amount of years I’ve lived does not fill me with joy). Yet, I can say unequivocally, that even with all the good things that have come with age, getting old blows. And it’s only gonna get worse.
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