February 3, 2015 § 1 Comment
If our ropes have not been tested for strength we would not know the threshold of our grace. It is through gritted teeth that we smile through the annoyance of arrogance and ignorance. At least that’s how pet peeves are made.
One of my pet peeves is when people want to have a discussion as I’m about to go into the bathroom. It’s like, “Come on, you know all I can think about is urine. How productive will this conversation really be?”
And another pet peeve is when people dare me to guess how old they are. Unprompted. I don’t want to guess. I know that’s a slippery slope.
I’m terrible at this game. I’m one of those people who wouldn’t be able to tell if you dyed your hair purple until three weeks too late. “Something’s different about you, but I can’t put my finger on it.” Same thing with weight gains and losses. Unless you really let it go, I’ll probably just think you got stung by bees. A lot of bees.
Not to mention age is a different beast all together. Take me for example, I look like I’m a good 6 or 8 years younger than I am, and my voice is probably 4 years younger than that. It’s true, as a 31 year old woman, I could pass for 24 if you didn’t look too closely at my crow’s feet (come on, eye cream). But I’m not going to prompt you to guess my Chinese astrology. That would be rude.
So I was me, minding my own business–literally, I was steps away from the bathroom. I had to pee, and I had been holding it for a bit. This was my escape. Then I was cornered by a challenger. “Seriously, how old do you think I am?” She asked, as if we had had a long conversation about it already. We didn’t.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to guess,” I said. This is always my response to the inquiry. I don’t ever lie or fib, and I could already tell my response was not going to be welcomed. I really wanted to pee instead. In fact, I was truly distracted by my brimming bladder, I couldn’t even come up with a ball park decade.
“No, really, guess how old I am,” she persisted. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. If I do guess and I guess too old, or too accurate, I’m an asshole. If I guess obviously too young to cover my ass, I’m clearly lying. No one wins this game.
“I can’t,” I said. I had only one thought. BATHROOM NOW.
“I’m not going to guess,” but you’re acting like a 4 year old, “you’re going to have to tell me,” because I don’t give a shit, I just want to relieve myself.
Boasting with the pride of a child who just lost their training wheels, I am finally allowed the answer. With a generous head nod and a big, fake W-O-W, I’m finally able to complete the last two steps behind the lavatory door. That was a close one.
“Age ain’t nothing but a number.” I once met an older man resembling Santa who wore a t-shirt that read that. Then I was strapped to his belly and jumped out of an air plane. It was the 400th time he’d been sky diving. It was my first.
I have to really think hard about age to give any number gravity. I want to honor it, the time, the climate, circumstances of the year of birth, old or young. Otherwise, I don’t consider it relevant to most discussions. If you are an adult living in the world today, we can have an ageless conversation. It is insulting to assume that I would not get a reference that dates 20 years ago. And if I didn’t, I would surely love to hear the explanation. Knowledge is power.
As for physicality, age is transient. We will never age like the generation before us. We age by how we take care of ourselves, armed by the science of our culture. 60 today does not look like the 60 of 30 years ago or 30 years into the future. We have things like sunscreen now, and we may be living on Mars soon.
Of course that doesn’t take away from the wisdom your years awards you. Or perhaps, the crazy you have developed over the years, but that varies from person to person and it would be truly ageist of me to generalize that all 90 year olds are bat shit. They aren’t. Just the challenging ones.
****As you might have noticed, I took last month for myself. You can find me posting new musings bi-weekly, and repeats on the off weeks. Mostly Tuesdays, or Wednesdays.