Have you ever felt the same age that you actually are? Or rather the same age that you were at the time? It’s because of this disconnect that we get common turns of phrase like “40 is the new 30” and “you’re only as old as you feel.” Age is a curious thing, even if Aaliyah told us that it “ain’t nothing but a number.”
Maybe it’s because I’m the baby in the family. Maybe it’s because I’m an October baby to boot, so I was usually the youngest (or close to the youngest) kid in my grade every year too. I’ve oftentimes felt like the youngest person in the room, and my outlook on life has most assuredly been affected by this perspective. For me, everyone else was the adult in the room who knew what they were doing. Everyone else was clearly older than I was.
But these last few years, I’ve really started to feel old. Or least older. To the point where I’ve questioned whether I’m going through a midlife crisis in my mid-30s. Whereas my age may have once been an apparition lurking in the shadows, it’s now more like a dripping faucet or an aching back: constantly uncomfortable and annoying, if not outright painful. It’s not like I’m being beaten over the head, but it’s no longer something I can ignore.
At the Dentist’s Office
Okay, so it’s not like I’m getting dentures or anything like that. And technically speaking, it wasn’t at the dentist’s office; it was at the periodontist’s office, but most people who don’t have a periodontist don’t know what one is. (Basically, they specialize in gums.)
I’ve been going to the same periodontist for over 20 years. When I first went to see him, I was still very much “just a kid.” Thus, I was perfectly justified in seeing him as the “older adult” and authority figure. But my most recent visit earlier this week was a little different… because he’s not the one who performed the exam; it was his daughter.
And, as best as I could estimate, she was at least 10 years my junior.
Undoubtedly, I’ve met other professionals who are younger than I am. It’s just that, at least to my recollection (which is clearly getting worse in my advancing age), this was the first time that the age difference was so… stark, so obvious. I don’t doubt her ability to do her job, but it did feel weird to see someone with “Doctor” in front of their name who is younger than I am. She’s just a kid, right?
It’s kind of like how Ben Stiller’s character feels in While We’re Young when he meets Adam Driver’s character for the first time. Sort of. Not really. It’s more like realizing that someone born in the same year you graduated from high school is now graduating from high school themselves.
Just a Kid (of a Certain Age)
Age is a very strange thing. Many people who are younger than you will see you as “old,” but many people who are older than you will see you as “young.” It’s all relative, right? A recent exchange I had on Facebook illustrates this point quite well.
It started out as a joke with a map showing “the location of all the pubs in Great Britain.” The Google Maps red pins flooded the map, of course… but it also had red pins in Northern Ireland. The nerd in me couldn’t help but to offer my geeky observation:
“Technically, this map is inaccurate. Northern Ireland is not a part of Great Britain (but it is a part of the United Kingdom).”
It’s a technicality, to be sure, and most people outside of the UK (and possibly many people within it) probably don’t care or don’t know about the difference. But then, a (presumably older) gentleman “corrected” me. He said I was wrong, stating instead that it’s the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
My friend, who originally shared the meme image, then commented with this popular Jon Stewart GIF.
The original gentleman who challenged my observation then said that he didn’t “find it that exciting watching Michael Jordan play 1 v 1 with a kid.”
Presumably, he’s supposed to be Michael Jordan and I’m supposed to be “a kid.” In his eyes, he’s the established and knowledgeable adult, and I’m some “kid” who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Long story slightly less long, he eventually acknowledged that I was right. To which, I just had to reply with this GIF.
For the record, Michael Jordan is 56 years old. That famous shoulder shrug? It’s from a game during the 1992 finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. That was 27 years ago. Even someone born that year isn’t really a kid anymore. Like I said, age is a funny thing.
Over the Hill and Picking Up Speed
There’s no shortage of jokes that start with “you know you’re getting old when.” We can talk about how music these days is “trash” compared to the music of our youth. Or how you enjoy early bird specials and going to bed before 10. Or how you think you might as well try every time you walk past a bathroom.
And you can’t stop complaining about how kids these days ruining everything. They have it so easy. Back in my day, we had to rent VHS tapes at Blockbuster and hope they had the movie we wanted when we got there. And if they didn’t, we’d just take a chance on something else because we wouldn’t be able to check reviews first. Walking uphill both ways. Barefoot. In the snow. Get off my lawn.
Maybe I am old.
Truth be told, I guess I don’t know what to think anymore. Age has me more flustered and confused than ever before. I guess they were right when they said that you leave this world the same way you enter it: bald, babbling, utterly perplexed, and in a diaper.