Monday, December 03, 2007

Same age? Don't bother me.

I don't much like being around people my own age. They make me feel old. I didn't attend my high school class 50th anniversary reunion in Indiana and can't recognize those old people in the fuzzy group picture they sent me. At my school I'm used to being around younger people, and it feels just fine. Folks in nursing homes make me feel young and fortunate. My family are all at least ten years younger. But people my own age--especially men--make me feel old. I must see myself in their appearance, and I don't like the way we look: old as sin and twice as ugly.

Over Thanksgiving break our fam all went to Publix for a few groceries, and while the rest cruised the aisles, I went out front to a bench to wait. Pretty soon an old guy wobbled his bike up to my bench, dismounted awkwardly and tumbled himself down on the bench next to me. "Howdy," he greeted. I could smell the liquor on his breath like a slap in the face. He pulled out a 12-pack of Bud Light from a fridge pack and popped open a can. "Hey, I'm Jimmy. Have a drink. You're an old man, I'm an old man. Let's enjoy the day." He took a deep swig. "No thanks," I smiled. When he lit a cigarette, I'd had enough and got up. "Better find my family," I said. Jimmy took umbrage. "What? Well, do what'cha want," he piped after me indignantly, "but I'd advise ya to pull yer pants up."

He was right. My jeans were sagging down again, and I hitched them up. Damned if I wanted to look like Jimmy. It's one thing to be old, quite another to be reminded of it. I try to avoid situations like that.