Age Is Only A Number

Bullshit!  You ever notice that the people who are constantly saying, “Age is only a number” are spouting that nonsense from the relative ignorance of a very low one?  It’s like saying, “Wine is only grape juice” when you’re a teetotaler.  The truth is, when you’re 26 – yeah — age is only a number; but when you’re 62 – nope — it’s real!

Here’s how the numbers work.

When you’re young (fresh out of the womb/shiny and new) numbers are important.  As you accumulate numbers, you get stuff (kinda like a video game.)  And the bigger the number, the more cool stuff you get.  You get to walk, you get to talk, go to school, cross the street, ride a bike, choose your own clothes, etc., etc.   And this just keeps going on and on, and it’s a grand time.  And pretty soon you’ve got enough numbers to get a handle on what life’s all about.  But then, just when you think you’ve got it covered, along comes this blast of hormones that knocks you on your ass.   

When puberty hits, the numbers grind to a halt.  For the next 5, 6 and sometimes 7 years, no matter how many numbers you collect, your life remains on hold.  You can see it just beyond the bars of your post-pubescent prison, but every time you reach for it, you get stopped cold by those two famous phrases: “You can do that — when you get older.” and “You’ll understand — when you get older.”  “When you get older” is an infinity away … but, fortunately, the numbers keep coming — and pretty soon you’re 20.

Whoa!  Out of the blue, life is great again.  The numbers are your friends.  Every time they show up, you get more cool stuff.  You get money and alcohol and ice cream (whenever you want it!) and sex (in a real bed!) and the hangovers are manageable and sleep is optional and the world loves you — cuz you’re young and smart and hot and totally cool … and OMG! can this get any better?  It’s no wonder that when we’re 20-somethings, we celebrate every new number as if we’re gladiators with free tickets to the orgy.  The world is sweet, and we’ve got Dionysus on speed-dial.  But in the midst of this bacchanalia, a weird thing happens.  The numbers start getting sneaky.  They start travelling in packs and showing up uninvited.  Until … one day we wake up and a decade or so of our numbers have disappeared, and we realize we’ve been spending the last few years washing somebody else’s underwear, talking insurance premiums (like that matters?)  And – holy crap! — that’s our minivan in the driveway.

This is the part where the numbers start piling up for no apparent reason.  Hangovers are tougher, sleep isn’t optional (but sex is) and if you eat that ice cream, your pants won’t fit.  But the real problem is you can’t tell which number is which because the difference between 42 and 46 is — uh — there is no difference!  WTF?  But then, just when you start asking yourself, “Is that all there is?” a miracle happens.

You discover you’ve finally got enough numbers for the bonus round.  And you didn’t know it, but this is what you’ve been waiting for.  Oh, yeah!  You’ve achieved numerical superiority over most of the people on the planet, and suddenly, you’re running the show.  You don’t do so many stupid things anymore, you make a lot fewer bad decisions and you don’t worry about stuff that doesn’t matter.  But, most importantly, you couldn’t care less what other people think of you.

It’s like winning the lottery!

No, folks: age isn’t only a number – it’s a reward!

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.