"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...