If you remember the Neil Young song “Old Man” then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mangle those famous lyrics.
I’m talking about that look you get when a very young adult mistakes your slight pause while remembering your PIN for dementia. Or the patronising smile of someone who assumes you’re enjoying lunch in a trendy restaurant because it’s a milestone birthday. Like, 90 or something.
It’s the bridling you feel along your spine when someone refers to your date with your husband as “cute”, or the blush on young cheeks when they comment about someone “really old” then realise you are, in fact, far older than the person of which they speak.
Look at my face, young lady. What do you see? A dotty old lady? A woman who looks good…. for her age? Your own terrifying future?
Because, my dear, the rub is: I was young once too. And I have done great things. I have also done stupid things, and that’s even more reason I don’t require your pity, your fear, or your dismissal.
You think you know everything – or at least everything that is relevant and useful in today’s world. I’m sorry to say that, if you’d bothered to pay attention to literary history, you’d realise that life is simply the same old stories, on repeat.
If I told you the truth about my life – or if you bothered to ask – you’d be shocked because you can’t imagine me as young. All you see is the lines on my face, the grey at my roots and someone who comes from a different generation, which may as well be a different planet.
Imagine if I told you about the adventures I had, the people I’ve met, the period where I smuggled contraception into France and dated a future politician! But why bother? Some truths are left unsaid. And anyway, you know better than me.
Don’t dismiss me, young person. Because you’re the one who’s missing out. I have wisdom to share; if I only thought you’d listen.
I’m not an “old person”, we’ve done away with that term. “We” meaning my generation. The one that fought for everything you take for granted. Enjoy it; I don’t need your thanks.
“Old” means nothing to me – even if it means a lot to you.
I have goals, I have dreams, I have ambitions. In other words, I’m a lot like you. And I’m not done yet.
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