September 08, 2011
Okay people, it's time. Stop staring in the mirror. It's happened. You ain't too sure when, you don't know how and you don't want to discuss why, but you've arrived. You are old. Join us.
Doubt it? Need to run some tests? Rest easy (and I know you need rest). I've done the work for you. Here's how you can know whether or not you are really, truly, finally, old.
For you teachers, you know you are officially old when no one in your class of students was born when you started teaching. I tried this last night. We were discussing the significance of names in my oral tradition class. Bahamian names have gone through some distinct changes since the days of slavery. I wanted to gauge when it was that I first heard a wild Bahamian name. I wanted to know how long we've been doing it - a girl named "Laydeedra", 8th grade, 1988, H.O. Nash. That's the first one I remember. So we've been creating never-before-seen-names for at least 25 years.
In fact, I am so old now that I end up teaching the children of people who graduated high school with me! (Can't help feeling, as I change my son's diapers, that I missed the boat.)
Back to the matter of names, you know you are officially old when you're black and you have a name like Ian, Winston, Herbert, Hubert, Phillip, Maurice, Thomas, Herman, Felix, Roosevelt or Livingston. You know you're really really old when you have a name like Ezra, Jacob, Samuel, Ezekiel, Mabel, Beryl or some such.
You know you are officially old when, after you've been sitting a while, you try to stand up and walk but it takes you a few steps to actually straighten up. It's like someone is pressing your head into your chest and a python has wrapped itself around your waist and has started to squeeze your spine in hopes of making your eyes pop out of your head. I kid you not. You walk for a bit like an old man. Hey, wait a minute ...
And while we're on the subject of motion, you know you are officially old when you groan to get up and make loud exhaling noises when you sit down. Right, so you inhale when getting up, (need that extra oxygen) and you exhale to sit down (and loosen the belt buckle and the pants button so your pantaloons don't burs'). Sometimes these groans are accompanied by the name of Jesus or petitions such as, "Lawd, have mercy." Makes perfect sense.
You know you are officially old when there's gray chest hair showing up. I'm sorry but chest hair ain't the same once it's gray. Not cool. Not macho. You ain't impressin' nobody at the beach with that stuff this summer.
You know you are officially old when you don't remember where you were, where you were going, what you were doing, what you needed to do, or who you made an appointment to see 30 minutes after you made it. And, you have a vague, no, a clear sense that you should be somewhere right this minute doing something, but you have absolutely no idea what that is.
You know you are certified old when you begin to favor tea and bread at night instead of a sensible dinner. Too much heavy food at night does not agree with old people. This is an extremely hard lesson for me to learn. So for now, Tums is my wery good and dear friend.
You know you are officially old when you can remember people your age wearing that red jacket Michael Jackson wore in his "Beat It" video. You remember those jackets right? And the Members Only ones? And the Alligator logo on those knit shirts? Remember? Gotcha, you old geezer! You know, it's funny, I was 13 when "Beat It" came out (1982). I actually thought those dancers in that video were tough guys. Sad.
If you don't Google something at least five times per day, you are dangerously close to the finish line my friend. Worse still, if you read the word "Google" just now and wondered if I somehow meant "goggle," as in goggle-eye fish, then you need to check your pulse.
You also know you're officially old when you don't only have a bald head, but bald eye lids too! Where will it end? O, the horror.
You know you're officially old when your laugh changes from a manly "ha ha" to a crotchety "ha hiiiigh." Seriously. How did that happen? I sound like my Acklins grandmother, Mae Hanna, may she rest in peace.
You know you are over the hill when you start going through your house turning off every light switch and fan to save "current". My wife and I have started shutting everything off. I've been telling myself that we've become more environmentally conscious. But nope, it's just age.
You know you are a dinosaur when your favorite shows are on Nick at Nite. I personally don't have this problem, but for those who do, acknowledge it for what it is. You are now old. TV was better back then, so it's OK. I mean, reality TV? If I want reality I turn my TV off, not on.
I prefer to go to the movies, like all the young folks do. Except that now, while the kiddies are hugging up and making out in the dark, I am trying to figure out why, despite the fact that I've had no physical exertion at all, and haven't in fact been using my legs especially much that day, my knees, curs-ed traitors that they are, start to ache. I mean ache. Without ceasing. Why? Cause I've had them bent too long I suppose as I sit doing nothing.
Oh well. The good news is, despite being ancient, you will hopefully have many many more years to dwell on the face of God's earth (like Methuselah).
Despite the challenges, I like being this age. Finally know myself. It is what it is. There are still adventures and mysteries ahead.
It's funny, the other day, my oldest son asked me if one day he'd be a dad and one day go to college, and drive a car. I said yes, yes and yes. Six years old and already looking way down the road. That's our trouble isn't it? Always in a rush to get to the next phase. Well, not me. I'm smellin' dem thar roses. I want to slow down and take my time, cause the next phase after old is . . .
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