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!

Gods Of Old!

gods

Although old is a relative term, generally, old people never get anything and (some would say) deserve even less.  Children annoy them, teenagers avoid them and adults talk to them in that voice we reserve for pets.  Their stories are long, their habits are confusing and they play way too much “Remember When.”  However, old people have it over everybody else on the planet because they have their own set of gods!  These gods and goddesses, like the pantheon of Valhalla or Olympus, govern all aspects of “older” life.  They appear to us slowly as we tack on the years.  They slyly watch as we slowly trade in our tequila for iced tea, push-up bras for baggy sweatshirts, stiletto heels for comfortable shoes and muscle cars for minivans.  And by the time we’ve replaced vodka shots with a glass of wine and clubbing with crossword puzzles, they have our fate firmly in their hands.  These gods should not be ignored because we’re all going to have to deal with them one day.

Cutonya – The goddess of beautiful grandchildren.  With one glance, she turns any grandchild into the cutest, funniest, most talented little kid on the planet.

Kwikus – This is the god who manipulates the calendar so that days, weeks and seasons magically disappear, and suddenly it’s Christmas– again.

Noxia — This is the god who finds joints and muscles we never knew we had and torments them with annoying little aches and pains.  This is punishment for all the times we were mean, thoughtless and rude when we were younger.  Get used to it!

Poof — The goddess of the unexpected fart.

Scritch – The god of the inappropriate itch.

Folus — The god of aggressive nose hair.

Wat – The god of selective hearing.  This god saves us from all the stuff we didn’t really want to hear in the first place.

Notagin — This is the most helpful of the gods.  He’s the one who protects us from all evil.  He keeps track of our experiences and steers us away from making the same stupid mistakes we made when we were kids.  We should never overlook Notagin, because old people who do, end up giving all their money to Nigerian princes or greedy grandchildren who have no honour.

Myosotia – Sometimes called the Goddess What’s-Her-Name, she takes proper names and puts them just out of reach.  She also hides small objects like keys in the very place we left them.  Oddly enough, Myosotia doesn’t bother with memories that are 20, 30 and even 40 years old — which remain crystal clear.

Metamorpho – This god transforms professional people like doctors, lawyers, accountants, police officers and even judges and politicians into children – who get younger and younger every year.

Kilomornow and his twin sister Saggeth – These two tricksters love practical jokes like shrinking clothes that hang in the closet, adding extra numbers to bathroom scales, distorting mirrors and moving body parts just a little lower to the ground.

But mostly, old people’s lives are governed by the Queen of the Gods:

Idonkare – The most powerful goddess of all, Idonkare spends her time lounging around with her indolent lover, Sowat, playing backgammon and eating nachos, yet her power is so awesome that merely invoking her name brings harmony and comfort to the universe.  For example:

“Looks like you lawn is gettin’ a little long there, Herb.”
“Idonkare!”

Or:

“It’s the trendiest restaurant in town and I’ve got reservations!”
“Idonkare!”

And, of course:

“Grandma, nobody wears a Hawaiian shirt and Lederhosen!”
“Idonkare!”

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!”