The memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. The hair is peppered with grey. Some body parts make popping noises when you bend or stretch. But other than that, getting older is something that happens without you. You only really notice it when it’s mentioned by someone else.
Life is like this:
You’re sort of young.
You still think you’re young.
You can still convince yourself you’re young.
You qualify for a senior’s discount.
Living long is the goal, right? It’s the arrogance of youth that dismisses older people out of ignorance and probably fear. “Hope I die before I get old”, sang The Who when they were young. They get it now that they’re in their mid-70s.
Long before I qualified for senior’s discounts, two incidents happened that were like slaps in the face about my age. One occurred about twenty years ago. The other, maybe seven.
Unless someone was an intern fresh out of school, I didn’t think much about them being younger than me. After all, most of them were. But at 680 News one day, out of the blue, this colleague who I thought was a peer said, “I wish MY Mom was as cool as you”! Was that a compliment? Ouch!
The second incident had more witnesses and I’m sure those in attendance will never forget it either. Derek, our Free-FM cohost Blair (pictured above with Toto) and our boss Dan went to a local restaurant for breakfast after the morning show. We were in a booth, Derek and I on one side, Dan and Blair on the other. The server was a woman older than me. We were talking shop and enjoying ourselves until the server approached and brought the fun to a screeching halt.
SERVER: Oh my God! (pointing back and forth to me and to Blair) Are you his Mother?
(Nervous giggles around the table from everyone but me.)
ME: No, I’m not. Can we just order?
SERVER: Oh, I just thought you were probably his mother.
BLAIR: (puts head down on table, embarrassed)
ME: (face reddening) Can you please just stop saying that? These are my coworkers and my boss! Can we order now?
SERVER: Well, you kind of look alike so I just figured, you know, he was your son.
ME: (getting pissed off) Lady! For the love of GOD please just stop talking! PLEASE.
SERVER: (shrugs) You look like you could be his mother.
ME: (exasperated) OH. MY. GOD. What don’t you understand about please stop talking? Please! Can you take our orders now?
This Monty Python-esque sketch ruined breakfast for me. I had never, ever thought that Blair could be my son! I would have had to have him young, but yeah, I guess the math works.
On our way out of the restaurant, I thought about going back to the server to tell her what she had done to my relationship with Blair. It would never be the same. Instead, I silently contemplated her murder and left.
The point is that for me, and I suspect for many others, we don’t really think about how much older we are until someone tells us. It’s not that we’re avoiding reality it’s just that, well, what does it matter? I know I’ll start collecting CPP in a couple of years. I’m aware that I’m no longer in the most-coveted advertising demographic. I’m not setting trends. (Not that I ever did!)
And there’s something we know that younger ones don’t. They’ll get to this age at a much faster pace than they ever imagine. And they’ll also wonder what the hell happened. They’ll be the same person but in an older shell. And it won’t even register most of the time.