(This is off topic, but needs to be said.) Hey you! Yeah you, the cyclist I pass every morning when I’m out running in the humid, Arizona summer heat! When I wave at you, the least you could do is nod and acknowledge me. I mean, I understand that the spandex and cycling shoes and your aerodynamic sunglasses make it difficult for you to feel human and act human under that missile-like helmet, but you are, in fact, human. Right? So maybe, make an attempt at a small wave or at least a gesture in my direction.
That’s not why I’m here.
I went to a concert last night with my friend. We are of a certain age now, but it doesn’t feel like it. When I look down I don’t feel like a middle-aged man. I mean, there’s a bit of a gut under my cool and appropriate, yet slightly provocative, t-shirt, (but I guess I’m not alone there if the media is to be believed on the subject of obesity in America). My attire is not a major giveaway, I mean I don’t do the “black socks with shorts thing”! I look presentable in a hip, but not hipster, kind of way.
To be fair, we were some of the most straight-laced and nerdy looking guys there. No sleeves of tattoos on our arms. No backwards hats. No sunglasses at night. Despite being outside by a pool, we left our shirts on the entire time. No jutted chins or dead-eyed looks. We appeared neither young, nor old. We blended in. I felt we were mingling in an age appropriate way. I felt we were just as likely to warrant scrutiny as everyone else, yet when we walked up to the gate and I pulled out my billfold* to show my ID, the security guard chuckled and said, “Naw, you’re good. Go on in.” The guy that stamped our wrists didn’t even look at us.
Do we look that old? I wondered.
Not that I cared, but suddenly visions danced in my head of moments lately where the young whippersnapper helping me uses an overabundance of “sirs” or the hair stylist says something like, “Man, your hair is nice and thick; I wouldn’t worry about the grays.”
I wasn’t worried, but now that’s all I see.
There are times when I guffaw or moan or swear at the television from the davenport, and I think, Hmm, I seem like a modern version of Archie Bunker (without the alcoholism or racism).
I see the little hairs that are more frequently appearing on my ears where they did not appear before.
My knees hurt.
Are those crows feet?
I submit my bills for payment in a timely manner, most of the time. And I do it online, most of the time.
So what if I know when it is expected and required that I wear slacks? That doesn’t mean I’ve crossed some invisible threshold though, does it?
Still, the signs are unmistakable. It’s OK that I’m perceived as older-ish, it’s just the patronizing tone that accompanies the interactions at times. This is not new. It’s just new to me. And to be fair, the concert was for a resurrected band from our own clueless youth that can actually be categorized as classic rock now with a singer long-dead, going on 20 years.
That youth is wasted on the young is not a new sentiment, but I see it as never before. And, consequently, I guess I am paying attention and trying my best to postpone the inevitable. That’s why I’m out there running like a zombie in the mornings when it’s miserable outside, when I feel miserable because I stayed up too late, two nights in a row. I want all of this to continue because it’s really getting good. And I like pushing myself in a way I never have.
To be sweating and breathless and running taps into something primal in my nature. I feel alive, while simultaneously feeling like I’m about to die!
So, (I guess the intro was actually on topic), Mr. Cyclist, do not ignore me!
Maybe I look older and out of shape and hideous, but one day you will be me…albeit a skinnier, fitter version, what with all the cycling…but regardless, one day you too shall not get carded, you too shall endure the patronizing cadence of a shopboy who could literally be your son, (and if he is, he is in a crap-ton of trouble for that neck tattoo!), as he helps you find a book about math. (Who buys books about math?!) You too will one day be startled by the old guy in the mirror because that’s not how you feel like you look. In fact, you feel nary a day over 26, but I guess those years have stacked up and even though you may not want to admit it, you are no longer a spring chicken, and people can tell. Not in a, hey, look at the geezer! kind of way, but it’s something about you. Confidence maybe.
The kind of confidence that only comes with living on the Earth for awhile. Perhaps I am too harsh with you, Sir Cycle-rama. Maybe I am you and you won’t believe it. Can’t admit it! You ignore me because I am so close to your own truth. I get it. If you pretend I’m not here, you don’t have to accept it. Fair enough, I’ll let it go.
Nope, I can’t!
You know what? I’m still wavin’ and if you don’t nod or wave or give me the finger, well, dick-move, my friend!! Plain and simple.
*Here’s a fun game: See how many “old-fashioned” words are deliberately used in this piece.
On second thought, maybe I need to update my vocabulary. Words make you sound old sometimes…