(Published on May 14, 2016 in Business Standard)
I find myself at that point in life when people at parties are largely younger than me. Not just at parties, actually; people all over the place—serious people, like policemen and doctors and pilots and stuff. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to let these people out and give them uniforms and tell them to go run the world, but I feel they must be closely watched, even though I have no idea what to watch for. It has given me a whole new insight into why really old people wear a permanent look of rank suspicion.
About those parties, though, I really cannot work out where all the other older people (my age) went. I have a hunch that somewhere out there, older people are throwing parties filled with older people, to which I’m not invited, either because a) older people have higher standards and better judgement, or b) see a).
Either way, I seem to spend a lot of time with appallingly shiny-eyed, endlessly energetic young people, firm of bosom and bright of future, who have an amazing capacity to remember things, including from the week before. To watch them drink all night and bounce off to work the next day; to watch them shine at each other with natural flair; to hear them articulate three clever paragraphs in the time it takes me to place my tongue in the correct position to make an ‘L’ sound; well, I see it all as a test of acceptance sent to me by my Creator. In a questionable display of humour, my Creator giveth me these tests right around the time s/he taketh from me the ability to drink a lot.
You know the phrase ‘middle-aged exuberance’? That’s right, you don’t, because nobody says that, because it’s not a thing. It costs too much. I proved this to myself last weekend when, at the tail end of a party co-hosted by three young people, I decided to jump through an open doorway from the living room to the terrace.
There was no need to jump since the door was open. Post-facto, everyone wanted to know if I was drunk, but no—I was only full of the happy beans of dancing, and whimsy. This was the exuberance part. I jumped with both feet from a standing position, in sandals that were flat as a pancake, on an even surface. I fully intended to arrive in the same position, but somehow my left ankle turned as I landed, and I kept landing for ages, finally coming to rest on my butt, eye level with a table, seeing stars from the pain in my foot. This was the middle-aged part.
See why they don’t go together?
The young people around the table made big shiny eyes and ‘o’ shaped mouths. ‘Tell me this is an ashtray,’ I said, stubbing my cigarette out on the table and really hoping it wasn’t wooden, because this was also a housewarming. Once blood flow to my head was restored, I dragged myself down three flights of stairs, limped to my car a block away, drove myself home, limped up three flights of stairs, and went to sleep still cursing. Talk about ignominious.
So it was that I found myself in the doctor’s office the next morning, getting myself x-rayed and bandaged and told to stay off my feet for three weeks.
It’s easy to forget middle age when you hang with the grotesquely hale. But middle age will find a way to remind you. So, no doubt, will the young people.