It happened as I was approaching a group of youths, who I absently noticed being a bit rambunctious and I’m thinking I vaguely heard some effing and jeffing. The thing is I was too busy dealing with my own drama involving a disastrous fake tan application, to take that much notice of them. That was until I became aware of lots of shushing and furtive behaviour and, thinking they were going to mug me, I quickly snapped to full alert mode. However, the reality turned out to be even worse once I understood that they were shushing each other because an old granny was within earshot. They were obviously a group of well brought up boys and a credit to their parents but, let me tell you, it didn’t do much for my elderly ego.
I think maybe the sting wouldn’t have been so sharp had there not been a similar incident yesterday, when I found myself at a bus stop alongside a youth, in torrential rain. I uttered words that cast me straight back to my own youth; words which I cursed the second they were out of my mouth. And if the words themselves hadn’t relegated me firmly into the old biddy category then the look of abject horror I received for my trouble would have done the trick. I had a flash back to all the old people who had said
the same thing to me when I was in the full flush of heady youth, with no regard for the elements. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I actually said, “Why aren’t you wearing a coat?”
It’s not just these depressing incidents either, there are other signs that I am over the hill. My memory is going for a start. I have always had an amazing memory and readily maintain that it is this rather than any real form of intelligence that has carried me through exams. Long term I’m fine; I could still tell you all of the major players and significant dates of the French revolution and I sat that exam in 1980. Not to mention every humiliating scrape that I have found myself in since 1976. No, it’s my short term memory that’s gone and let’s face it that’s the one you need. I have never bothered keeping a diary; nowadays if I don’t write it down, it’s gone. I swear some days I can barely remember my own name. I become a stuttering shambolic wreck, trying to locate words as simple as dog or house in a brain that seems to have turned to mush. It’s so unfair, why can’t it be the brain cells that I don’t want that get killed off, like the one that contains the memory of throwing up all over my date after drinking too much Bacardi.
Then there’s the hypochondria.The minute someone tells me about someone they know who has died, I become preoccupied by their age. If they are over 60, they hold no interest for me. Under 60, however, and I want to know every detail already imagining myself meeting the same fate. It reminds me of my grandmother, who lived to be 97. For as long as I can remember she used to read the obituaries aloud from the newspaper with the added commentary that they had either had a good innings or it was no age to go. I used to think she was morbid and ridiculous but now I’m thinking that’s probably my next step. I’ll be reading obituaries out before I know it.
I should have seen the signs coming when kids first started beginning their sentences with, “In the olden times ...” or “When you were a girl ...” But no, so caught was I in regaling them with tales from yesteryear, I failed to see that I was becoming a dinosaur.
Making young people sit through episodes of High Chaparral and The Little House on the Prairie in much the way my dad used to inflict Champion The Wonder Horse and Rawhide on me. The writing was on the wall alright. All those times I got a headache, listening to the thumping relentless beat of whatever the hell they call the music these days; all the while bemoaning the lack of any meaningful lyrics.
Now it’s too late. I am officially ancient. I can already see what’s coming next. There’ll be afternoon naps and people will be giving up their seats for me on buses. I already wear reading glasses so I’ll probably have to progress to Braille. It’s going to be like Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man, which has suddenly never seemed so poignant. I suppose the only blessing is the way my memory’s going I won’t remember any of it.