I’m getting old. I am reminded on a daily basis that I’m not the kid I used to be. In fact, I’m beginning to doubt that I ever was a kid, which we all know is a surefire sign that you are, indeed, getting old.
This growing consciousness of age has little to do with my receding hairline because, to be honest, my hairline finished receding long ago—a tide can only go out so far, after all. Still, I did find myself being counseled by the barber just the other day that it was time to buzz the top of my head clean because the few stubborn follicles that remained up there just looked, well, awkward. OK, so I admit it: that did bug me.
The flecks of gray in my brown beard, however, don’t bother me in the least because, I’m told, they look “distinguished.” (“Flecks?” my wife hollers from across the room. “They ceased being flecks long ago. Try flecks of brown in your gray beard!”) See what I mean?
One place in which it is especially apparent that there is a growing divide between me and youthful vitality is in my son’s carpool. A few days a week I drive Luke, my ninth-grade son, to school along with three other high-schoolers. When I suggest that from time to time they bring in a CD of music to share, they gladly oblige since they have long ago tired of my hit list of songs from 25 years back. Can’t say that I blame them. But what I do find a little troubling is that there is rarely even a single song in their collections that sounds familiar to me; rarely a group they like which I have ever heard of; rarely a riff in a song that I find even somewhat palatable. And in those moments of self-realization, I find myself exclaiming: “Egad! I have become one of my parents!” To which they respond: “Egad? What’s ‘egad’?”
And so it goes. I’m writing this to you from a hotel room in San Francisco where I am attending a trade show. This evening I wandered down the street to Old Navy to buy myself a new shirt. Now I knew before walking in there that I wasn’t their target market, but I figured: a shirt’s a shirt, right? Surely I could find something that suited my dull sense of fashion. But as I wandered the aisles, I couldn’t help but think that having a bald, gray-bearded, middle-aged guy wandering around had to be bad for their business. Imagine if I had gone into an especially trendy establishment! They might have called security.
Which would have been OK with me. Those night security guys are looking more and more like my peers with each passing day.
I am reminded of an old joke: There are two problems with growing old: One is that you lose your memory; and I can’t remember what the other one is. The reason this joke comes to mind is that when I started writing you this letter I had a specific point to make, but now that I’ve arrived at paragraph seven, I have no idea what that point was.
Have a good week.