If I manage to frinkle my way through a few more decades and find myself sitting in a ‘comfortable chair alongside my darling Jo, I know we’ll still have our cheeky little moments. There will be some accidental double entendre and one of us will reference it, finished with something like “You know what I’m saying?” That’ll probably be me. I’m sure it’ll be suggestive of something we might do together as a couple but be incapable of at that stage, because I’m talkin’ old old here. What I know is that her answer will be along the lines of “I know ‘zactly what you’re sayin’”and we’ll exchange a nose twitch or a little wink to affirm that we would if we could.
Now I know that everyone has some romantic notion of what life will be like when they get older and the truth for you all I hope is along the best lines of what you hope for. I know from my point of view what I want in my twilight years and I doubt things will ultimately work out that way for life has a way of getting in the way…but I hope it doesn’t.
If that sounds pessimistic, it’s not meant to be. All I mean is that I have learned through life that all the things I imagined, when I dared imagine into the future are never quite exactly like that picture I had in my head. Sometimes, most times, that’s a good thing for I am quite the pragmatist. I’m a demon for over analysing and challenging any overly optimistic version of what lies ahead. Maybe it’s because I’m a worrier I don’t really know.
I remember thinking twenty was old and I recall the first time a kid called me mister. Lord I felt old. I think I was twenty two. I kinda wanted to be a mister because I always looked about twelve until I was thirty, but having a kid call me mister was not what I was thinking. I wanted a waiter in a restaurant or an older person to use the term to validate my manliness. The kid wrecked it for me.
Age is such a weird thing. In my youth I occasionally struggled with my appearance. I was 53 kg until I was about twenty five, that’s eight and a half stone in old money. I wasn’t altogether unattractive and had my fair share of attention.. oh yes but I was no ladies’ man. The weight thing combined with the good fortune of a good complexion meant I looked about fifteen and this was an issue when it came to getting served in pubs. I was still being checked for my age at twenty five. I always wanted to look older back then – at least until the first day things went in reverse. It was no coincidence that I spent my days cycling, running, playing basketball and working so there was inevitably more meat on a tinker’s stick back then. It’s a politically incorrect term these days but like I say I’m aging fast and it is a reference to day’s of yore.
I remember the day it all changed well. I was twenty nine (so technically still in my twenties) and I had become used to looking younger than my years. The barmen had stopped asking for ID so things were on the up – or so I thought. A casual conversation in a workplace canteen meant I quite simply came undone. Someone was referring to their age and turned to me and asked what age I was. Foolishly I said,
“Have a guess.” I was waiting for 25 or 26 when to my horror and for the first time in my life someone guessed the other way.
“I’d say about thirty four – thirty five.”
Now it wasn’t simple vanity that caused the shock, it was that for the first time in my life I was confronted with the notion that I was actually aging. Up to that point, I was the lucky Bas***d who never aged. I was Peter Pan and suddenly I had become Methusela. It’s been downhill ever since.
Now in fairness, apart from the increasing list of creaks and ailments, nose hair and inclination to complain about ‘young people’ and feeling nostalgic for a time before even an 8 track was the height of technology, (google it young people) getting older has brought some consolation benefits. Caring less about the opinion of those that matter little in my life and appreciating those that do matter more would be one of them. I’ve never been a conformist in the sense that I’ve always been ballsy in what I wear or to a large extent, in what I do or say, but age frees you up even more in these departments.
It is a struggle to keep the middle of my body in check, as it likes to expand with little encouragement and it is more determined than ever to avoid going back to its once, svelte like state. Although I still tell my grandniece that the colour off my hair is indeed still blonde, it is – shall we just say – less so and leave it at that. She calls it grey but what do kids these days know eh?
I have a dodgy ticker, a wrecked back, a pair of knees that are functional at best, ankles that click as I walk, and stiff fingers. I wear glasses more often and I have begun (Begun! my darling will say) to strain to hear things a little more often. Basically random bits of me hurt at inconvenient moments and for no apparent reason. I get face pains, arm pains and arse pains although to be fair – over the years I have had a pain in my arse on more than one occassion, usually though as a result of the action or inaction of others.
But I digress. I’m still a way off being put out to pasture – well a bit of a way off – and yet I suspect when I get to that point where I should accept that I’m an auld lad at last, that I will be calling younger men and women than I – auldwans and auldfellas.
“Look at the state of that old lad” I’ll say, as I zimmer frame my way past annoying young people hovering outside a shopping mall with their terrible loud music. Nah… Only joking. I will most probably refer to the old lad, but I’ll be more likely to shimmy my wrinkly old arse to the beat of whatever new shite the next generation will be playing too loudly, on whatever device they will be playing it on – only I’ll have to ask them to turn it up because I’ll be a deaf old dude.
That’s the plan anyway. Being alone when I get – if I get – to that stage of life would be a challenge for a soul like mine, but having my darling Joanna with me will make all the difference. It is not a romantic notion of my future, more the pragmatic one I mentioned earlier. I don’t need anything extra or special you see. As long as I have her tiny hand resting on the small of my back, making sure I’m not going to fall. As long as I can still smell her perfume and make her giggle like a girl occasionally. As long as she sets a dimple in my cheek as I smile when she tells me she still thinks I’m handsome – even though I’ll be an auld wreck of a yoke. As long as I can hear her soft voice, hold her gentle hand and feel her kind heart without even a word passing between us. As long as I still want to impress her, to make her smile and at least start to try and have a little jive before I realise my back’s not really up to it and I can’t remember the steps anyway, then life will be good and age… well… it’ll still be just a thing I don’t yet have to worry about…