Have You Heard “the Voice?”

the voice

It’s been a number of years since I first heard “the voice,” but I remember it quite clearly.  I was going through a grocery store checkout and the little popsicle at the cash register said, “And, how are you today?”  She drew out the “oo” vowel and leaned slightly forward as she said it.  It was at that precise moment I realized I wasn’t a young man anymore.  And I have to admit it annoyed me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar (read “under 50”) “the voice” is the inflection adults add to their speech when they’re talking to children, dogs, foreigners, hospital patients and old people like – uh – me.  It’s a strange combination of empathy and authority.  It suggests that the speaker thinks you might not understand the words, but wants to reassure you that they are in charge and there’s nothing to worry about.  And despite its condescending tone, it’s actually full of goodwill.

Over the years, I’ve gotten used to “the voice,” but, honestly, it still grates on me.  I can’t help it; I just don’t like being talked to on the same level as “Who’s a good boy, then?”  This is especially true when the speaker is a 20-something somebody whose major accomplishment in life is a totally cool Instagram profile.  I know these folks are full of good intentions, but treating grey hair as if it’s a terminal disease is hard to take when you’re on the receiving end.  (Full disclosure: Like everybody else on this planet, I used “the voice” when I was younger and still do, on occasion.)

The problem is, after a while, “the voice” doesn’t quit.  It’s like you’re living in a gigantic daycare centre.  Pretty much everybody who doesn’t know you, uses it.  They start every conversation with a simple question so you’re not stuck for an answer.  They constantly repeat themselves as if you can’t hear, don’t understand or have no attention span.  And they over-explain everything — as though your age and your IQ are somehow connected – adversely.  It’s totally tiresome.  But, the worst thing is “the voice” tells you – in no uncertain terms – that you’re no longer a viable sexual partner and you are not now — nor ever were — a badass.

It’s been a number of years since I first heard “the voice,” but I remember it quite clearly.  I looked at the little popsicle at the cash register, saw her smile, looked into her eyes and thought, “You have no idea who you’re dealing with, little girl — and if I told you even half the story, you wouldn’t believe me.” But, all I could think of to say was, “Not bad — for an old fella!”

Do You Act Your Age?

hourglassI had a birthday the other day.  (Years ago, I lied to Mark Zuckerberg, so nobody’s really sure when it was.)  Anyway, I kinda got to thinkin’ about getting older (notice, I didn’t say “old”) and discovered nobody really knows anything about it.  Basically, we travel along the road of life and all the signposts are either torn down or written in Babylonian.  So, at the end of the day, none of us really knows where we’re going, ’cause it’s all unfamiliar territory.  So, I decided to draw a quick-and-dirty map.

Shakespeare got it wrong: there are really only five stages of life.  They are Kid, Teenager, Young Adult, Adult, and Adult Plus.  So, in each of the categories, select the attitude that most closely resembles yours, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of where you are on this journey we call life.

AGE

Kid – I’m this many!
Teenager – Boy, when I get older …
Young Adult – Age is just a number.  I know a lot of totally old people who like to PARTY.
Adult – We never had/did stupid crap like that when I was young.
Adult Plus – How the hell did this happen?

WEEKEND LEISURE

K – I played some games, had my special lunch and a nap, watched TV, had a story and went night-night.
T – Nothing!  Just hanging out with my friends.  God! Why do you always have to give me the 3rd degree?  This place is like a prison.
YA – PARTY !!!!!!
A – I worked my ass off for this Christmas/ birthday/ vacation/ dinner party/  (fill in the blank) and now we’re going to damn well enjoy it!
A+ – I played some computer games, made a sandwich, took a nap, binge-watched The Killing and fell asleep reading my book.

FOOD

K – Grandma, I like pizza, too.
T – Chicken and stuffed peppers, again?  How come we never get pizza?
YA – Let’s go get a pizza before the PARTY.
A – I’m way too tired to cook.  I’ll just pick up a pizza on the way home.
A+ – Let’s get a pizza and see what’s on Netflix.

FRIENDS

K – Tommy and Shafir and Gemma and Mrs. Windouffer and Barnsy and Bunny and Megan and ….
T – Everybody hates me.
YA – My BFF is Stacey. We PARTY all the time, but I’m — like — totally friends with everybody — except Emma; she’s such a bitch.
A – If you don’t count family, we don’t have that many close friends.  Maybe Jake and Trina or Paul and Sasha from work. But have you ever noticed when you know a couple, there’s always one that you like way more than the other one?
A+ – Yeah, we have friends, but it’s so much nicer just to come home and relax.  Besides, once Edna takes her bra off, you need a team of horses to get her out of the house.

FAMILY

K – There’s Mommy and Daddy and Daddy’s new friend Ryan and my stupid sister and Barnsy the dog and me
T – This family sucks.
YA – I should call the parents more often, but mom’s always going on about grandchildren like I’m some kind of a brood mare.  I’ll call next Friday before the PARTY.
A – I spend so much time taking the kids to school and ballet and soccer and band practice.  And then there’s grandma’s grocery shopping and dad to his doctor’s appointments and every other “come-get-me” emergency.  I should just get my chauffeurs’ license and go into business for myself!
A+ – I love her dearly, but it was only supposed to be temporary after she broke up with Rashir.  If Audrey doesn’t get her head on straight pretty soon and move out of the basement, I’m probably going to kill her.

I Love Getting Old — II

time-and-oldI took a little local flak for Tuesday’s (January 24, 2017) post, “I Love Getting Old.”  The general consensus was, “Hey, (descriptive derogatory noun deleted) gettin’ old isn’t all beer and skittles, ya know.”  This is true.  So, in the interests of fair play, here are a few things about getting old that aren’t so nice.

1 — You forget things — a lot of things.  The days of keeping phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, bank accounts and a grocery list in your head are over.  You’re lucky if you can remember why you just walked into the kitchen.  The thing I hate the most about memory loss is you can almost remember stuff — but nope — it ain’t there.  For example, sometimes when you see a familiar face you can’t quite remember how you know that person.  Or sometimes you can conjure the face in your mind but you haven’t got a clue what the name is — and that includes famous people like Albert Einstein or that fat Brit who sang at Diana’s funeral.

2 — Your body betrays you.  This is the worst.  All those little aches and pains that weren’t there yesterday — in places you didn’t even know you had.  But the real problem is you have no idea which ones are Get-Thee-To-A-Hospital-Immediately and which ones are Cowboy-Up-Ya-Wimp.  And that means you’re either going to spend the rest of your days reading out-dated National Geographic magazines at the doctor’s office or die naked in the shower because you didn’t.

3 — Mirrors are the enemy.  It’s not just changing rooms that hate you.  First thing in the morning looks like Night of the Living Dead, and last thing at night looks like you might not make it ’til morning.  Even shop windows on a cloudy day can scare the hell out of you.

4 — Cute.  This is a major problem.  Mother Nature provided us with natural defences against bratty kids and vicious little dogs.  Unfortunately, as you get older, everything under 3 feet tall just looks so damn cute that you spend a lot of time getting bitten on the ankles and putting up with yappy dogs.

5 — It turns out all the TV programs you loved as a kid actually suck.

6 — Modern music all sounds like the Klingon Wedding Song for bassoon, drums and base guitar.

But the very worst thing about getting old is:

7 — You’ve had the misfortune of living long enough to see the Red Sox win the World Series!