I’ve been lucky when it comes to growing old. People who meet me for the first time are shocked when I reveal my age, some of them visibly.
It’s been great.
I have a full head of hair and a young complexion, thanks to my sensitive skin that normally turns to fire when exposed to a little sunlight. Lessons have been learned along the way and I no longer spend any time in the sun if I can help it. Instead I sit in the shade and am mocked by those wrinkly old sun-worshippers with leathery skin and I simply don’t care – I am reaping the benefits of avoiding the sun.
I have a lot of friends who are younger than me and some of them are jealous. One friend said just a few days ago:
“I’m nearly forty and I look about five years older than you. How old are you now? Forty seven? You make me sick!”
Looking younger than my age has made me act a little younger too. I have been told that I can sometimes behave very immaturely (usually by my two teenage lads) and to be honest I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I have often said that I am a middle-aged goat with a teenager trying to escape from within. You may find that description a little peculiar but it is totally accurate.
And the good news is that by looking so young, I have been able to get away with it.
Something has happened and I am a little shocked.
Before I reveal all, let me tell you about a little argument that I had with Mrs PM.
Some background first:
Age milestones can be traumatic – I know, I’ve been through a few myself.
My twentieth birthday was horrible. I was at university and I realised that I was no longer a teenager; all of a sudden I was supposed to start acting like a grown up human being. After a couple of pints I thought to myself “Bollocks to that!” and so began my battle with age.
On my thirtieth birthday I refused to bow to the pressure of settling down and continued to behave like an idiotic young arse despite people my age telling me that I was acting like a juvenile imbecile.
On my fortieth birthday I really struggled to cope with on-coming middle age and beat myself up daily in the months leading up to the big day, compensating for middle age by dressing up in young clothes and doing even more stupid things.
Thankfully, I came to my senses and grew up a little. Nevertheless, coming to terms with my age has turned me into an unsympathetic bonehead when it comes to others reaching similar milestones, responding harshly when people have said things like.
“Oh no – I’m old! I’m thirty next week.”
“What do you mean old?” I have replied, oblivious to their trauma. “I tell you what, when you are forty seven like me then you can start to bloody worry about your age. Thirty! THIRTY!!! What’s wrong with you? You’re still a child! No – you’re a BABY! It’s been so long since I’ve been thirty that I’ve forgotten what it felt like. Thirty – honestly. Do me a favour and go and moan about it to somebody who is twenty five. That’s the only way you’ll get a sympathetic ear. Worried about being THIRTY? STREWTH!!!”
To be honest, I do feel bad about giving people a hard time when they have wandered off feeling depressed, because I remember being afflicted by the same depression at the time myself.
Unfortunately, my insensitivity towards younger people reaching milestones came back and bit me on the arse yesterday. Why? Because Mrs PM is forty this year; that’s why we had an argument.
It started off as such a nice day. I returned home from work and found Mrs PM sitting in the garden, enjoying a wonderfully sunny day.
“Shall we eat out?” she said.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Let’s go the pub and have dinner in the beer garden!”
We strolled to one of our local pubs and were enjoying a wonderful meal with a pint or two of the landlord’s finest ale in the lovely June sunshine, when the subject of age reared its ugly head. The conversation went something like this:
MRS PM: I’m forty in August.
PM: I know.
MRS PM: I don’t want to be forty. I’m slightly perturbed about it.
PM: It’ll be fine. Nothing will change. I was forty almost eight years ago. I’m fine.
MRS PM: I remember when you were forty; you were distraught.
PM: Yes, I know I was – but I was stupid.
MRS PM: What do you mean “stupid”?
PM: I mean what I say. I’m quite happy now, all these years later. I don’t know what the problem was. One minute I was thirty nine, the next I was forty. Nothing changed. Nothing dropped off. I didn’t die. I didn’t suddenly become old. I was fine. I am fine. I was a stupid bloody idiot.
MRS PM: You’ll feel the same when you turn fifty.
PM: I can assure you that I won’t. I’m absolutely delighted to be forty seven years old and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m very happy, thank you very much. I don’t know why I was so idiotic.
MRS PM: Well I feel down about it.
PM: Well that’s stupid. I know that everybody who reaches a milestone like that suddenly realises that they are getting old, but so what? Nothing will change. Everybody who worries about it is being daft.
MRS PM: Are you saying that I am stupid?
PM: No – I am saying that you are BEING stupid worrying about it – just like everybody else who worries about such things. I was stupid too.
MRS PM: YOU ARE CALLING ME STUPID!!!
At this point, a few people started listening in. I think I saw one person go to the local shop to get some popcorn. Of course, I was oblivious. I was on a roll. I was being a total dickhead.
PM: Look, sweetpea, there is nothing to worry about. Think about it. What’s wrong with being forty? What is so different about being forty? You’re not going to become an ugly, fat old bat overnight. If you think you are then you are being stupid.
It was a sunny evening and all of a sudden the atmosphere changed, as if a dark cloud had appeared above. I was oblivious to this because I was in full flow, ranting away about things that I shouldn’t even be pondering.
Sometimes I can be such a moron. I should have stopped; I didn’t.
PM: When a twenty nine year old comes up to me and says “Dave – I’m worried about being thirty”, I just want to scream at them. They are YOUNG at thirty. It’s ridiculous. It’s STUPID.
MRS PM: WILL YOU STOP CALLING ME STUPID?
PM: I’m not calling you stupid. I am saying that you, like me and every other bugger who has beaten themselves up about entering a new decade, deserves a slap to bring them to their senses.
At this point, the audience winced, presumably anticipating the pain to come. I stopped my rant briefly to look into Mrs PM’s eyes.
They were red. They were fiery. She was angry. She was going to kill me.
A little voice popped into my head and said “FOR CRYING OUT LOUD – SHUT UP!!”
So I did.
But it was not over – not by a long way.
MRS PM: HOW DARE YOU CALL ME STUPID!!!! Do you know, you can be right arsehole sometimes and you're being one now.
Were some people applauding?
MRS PM: I know that turning forty won’t change anything …
PM: But …
MRS PM: SHUT UP!!!! I want to be in my thirties. I want to stay young. I don’t want to be forty but I know I will get over it. I just want some sympathy. I don’t know why I bothered trying to get any from you. You are such a pratt! I ask for sympathy and YOU CALL ME STUPID!!
PM: I didn’t call you stupid, I …
MRS PM: SHUT UP!!!! I haven’t finished.
There was definitely some applause and a little mocking laughter. I turned around to see who it was.
MRS PM: STOP IGNORING ME!!
At this point I deservedly had to suffer a tirade of abuse. I tried to make amends by smiling and nodding. I endeavoured to reiterate the fact that I didn’t think she was stupid at all but my pleas fell on deaf ears. She lectured me about feelings, age and all sorts of things related to what an uncaring, cold-blooded, heartless, callous and cruel barbarian I could be. Her words struck home and I decided to take one for the team. I sat there and allowed her to chastise me.
And then I switched off.
Her words flowed over me and I tried to filter out the key phrases that would allow me to put my foot in the door and try to regain a place in her affections. I was humble. I hung my head in shame, seeking a gap where I could change the subject. I knew I was beaten.
And then it happened.
MRS PM: Hang on a second. Have you looked in the mirror lately?
The pitch of her voice had changed. She was no longer annoyed with my callous outburst. Moreover, there was a hint of humour in her voice, a hint of mischief – the tables were about to be well and truly turned. I decided that now was the time to lighten the mood with some self-deprecating humour.
PM: Of course, not. I don’t look in the mirror. You know that I am scared of baboons. And if I survive the ordeal I’m worried that the mirror might not. I’ve had enough bad luck over the years.
MRS PM: (now laughing): I think you should look in the mirror.
PM: (now slightly worried): Why?
MRS PM: You’re going grey!
MRS PM: Honestly – there are flecks of grey in your hair at the side.
PM: Rubbish! When the sun shines on my hair, it looks more blonde – not grey.
MRS PM: I’ll prove it.
The audience had their popcorn at the ready as Mrs PM gently reached into the hair at the side of my head.
Mrs PM handed a hair to me – a genuine, bona fide grey hair. I was flabbergasted. I was shocked. It had grown out of my head. A bloody great big thick grey hair!!!
Here is the proof:
So you see, ladies and gentlemen, age is finally catching up with me. For those who are wondering what happened after Mrs PM’s fantastic revelation, we walked back home with Mrs PM chuckling to herself as I did my greatest Victor Meldrew impersonation: “I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!”
Mrs PM has forgotten about the trauma of reaching forty because there is now visible evidence that I am a middle-aged git and to her that is funny enough to allow her to forget the approaching milestone - at least for now.
And I can imagine what you are thinking - IT SERVES YOU RIGHT - and you are of course totally correct.
Dear reader, I am no longer the Peter Pan of the blogosphere. My hair, which has irritated me ever since I can remember has now climbed to new heights of annoyance.
But, fear not – I won’t let it bother me. I shall continue to grow old disgracefully – the only problem is that I may now start looking the part.
I no longer have an excuse to act like a pratt.
But one thing’s for sure – I will definitely, definitely, definitely not be buying “Just For Men”.