Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Old Coot Says to the Other

"How old are you, Son?"

"Younger than dirt," I said, "but older than you."

"No way!" he scoffed. "Look at me. I am old. I've been around the Horn, Boy. I've seen the elephant."

"Truly," says I, "you do look an awful fright. In what year were you born?"

"Why," says he, "I'm on the Social Security, born," he says, "in '43."

"So," I says, "if your birthday is before the third of May, you are 68 on this day."

"Yessir," he replied, "and mighty proud of it! So, how old are you, Whippersnapper?"

"Well," say I, "I'm truly not old enough to be your Pa; but I was deliverin' newspapers on my bicycle before you were born."

"If'n you're a standin' there, you're a lyin'," he says.

Well, the nice young officer cuffed me and put me in the cruiser. "Grandpa," he says, "the arrest report's gonna look mighty strange, your name and mine being the same and all."

"Well, says I, "I'm mighty proud of you. You've made something of yourself, and I'm just an honest old Coot who can't stand being called a liar." -30- fictional tale

And just what does this little vignette illustrate? Just one of the inexplicable foibles of people, bless their hearts. People go through childhood pressing their age "to the next level." Children will cite their age as "almost seven" or "ten-and-a-half."

Then we reach the stage where we press for denial. Well, yes, I am twenty-nine (but never thirty). Or I am "in my early forties," (until I'm truly not forty-anything).

But when we are "of a certain age" we begin to exhibit our years with pride, as though it is a personal achievement to have attained x-number of years. Well, perhaps it is an achievement. But now we even go so far as to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the truth. Why, just the other day I heard myself tell someone I am seventy-seven, which will still be a lie for another 63 days.

Back to the story. It is no exaggeration to say that two old men upon making one another's acquaintance will almost inevitably get to the place in their conversation where one or the other will either ask the other's age, or even go so far as to assert, with no evidence greater than the visual assessment, that "Of course, I am much older than you," or perhaps to preface a tale with "When you get to be as old as I am..." No joke. This happens over and over again. I have been the fooler, and I have been fooled. But mostly, it is just a case of two old fools...


Ilene said...

I am getting to that point. I actually told someone my age the other day. Guess I figure that if I am telling people I am retired, they must have some idea that I am getting older. I am also old enough that I push the space bar twice between sentences, something I am told is not done now. My typing teacher would have cut my grade severely had I not done so. Typing teacher? What is that? Kinda like apropos, obsolete.

Lin said...

I always round up too, I don't know why. I think I secretly want someone to say "You don't look (insert age)!" Maybe I do and that is why they don't say it. :p

vanilla said...

Ilene, but of course since you retired at such a young age, you tell in order to clarify that you aren't really all that old. I did not know about the single-space convention. I do two spaces. Typing teachers became "keyboard instructors" and now young people are all thumbs.

Lin, actually rounding up makes a lot of sense. I am certainly closer to x+1 than I am to x! And some days I feel 94. (That's a joke, Ma'am.)

Vee said...

I think it was my older brother who just last week told me that we are as old as we feel. So maybe since I feel every bit my age I don't hesitate to broadcast it to others. My age perfectly matches my limp.

Anonymous said...

Right now I tell folks, if they ask, that I am 64 and a half - I like the half...

Sharkbytes said...

I keep forgetting how old I am- have to subtract. I've been giving Om and me one extra year of marriage for the last year. Not sure why I would want to make that longer than it is.

But I love the picture of you!

Hey- my verification word is "pests"

vanilla said...

Vee, however did we come by the hitch in the gitalong? Wherever did your brother get such a notion?

Grace. so in a couple months, will you say 64 and three-quarters?

Joan, but you haven't forgotten how to subtract, nor, apparently the minuend. Well, my picture certainly wouldn't testify to a lesser age than I have achieved!

vanilla said...

Joan, yes, I meant "subtrahend;" but it's late and I'm tired.

Ilene said...

All thumbs! I love it. I text with my pointer finger. My thumbs have a hitch in the get-along.

vanilla said...

Ilene: *grin*