They say that you are as young as you feel. I have always taken consolation in that, no matter what the calendar indicates to me. Most days I still feel pretty young. I attribute that to my youth group and the colorful parade of friends my children bring around the house. For instance, last weekend I was out building Rice Krispie treat sculptures with an enthusiastic and giggly bunch of youth at an overnighter. There is something definitely to be said for being around people who are fun and still look at life as being full of possibilities.
Yet, I am gathering some disturbing evidence that runs counter to my youthful vim and vigor. It all began at work the other day when I discovered that I was wearing my turtleneck inside out 2 hours into the morning. To be fair to myself, I couldn't see the tag sticking out, Minnie Pearl like, on the back of my neck. But no defense comes to mind to explain how I didn't notice the obvious stitching on the arms and body of the shirt. This lack of mindfulness disturbed me, so I decided pay attention to the rest of the week and see if there were any other indicators that I am (gasp) getting past my prime. What I discovered was not promising. I present to you the following three exhibits: waitresses, music, and nicknames:
1.Waitresses I went out to eat twice last week and noticed that the waitresses have all taken to addressing me as "sir" when it used to be "hunny" and "sweetie." The waitresses apparently noticed that time had marched on and were giving me a subtle hint.
2.Music I was happily tapping my feet the other day to "Burning Down the House" by Talking Heads on the radio, when it occurred to me that I was listening to 92 Gold. Since when did music I listened to in high school get played on the oldies station? I heard Blondie a little later and had to admit that my beloved new wave music has become old hat. So I wonder what that makes me?
3.Nicknames This one is almost too embarrassing to put in the newspaper. You know how older couples sometimes call each other by sickly-sweet names? My wife and I talked about this when we were dating and vowed we would never, ever become those people. Well, the other day I noticed that we were referring to ourselves as "Mummy" and "Daddy" when we were addressing the dog. Then it horrifyingly occurred to me that we had become those very people! At least we don't do it in conversations when the dog isn't present, but honestly, how long do you think we can hold out against the tide of time?
These exhibits may not exactly indicate that I have yet reached my expiration date, but keep me aware that the day is coming when I will be "reduced for quick sale." And you know what? I can't think of a better way to spend that time between now and then investing in the lives of young people and their families.
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that helps people solve problems and be happier through counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups. Learn more about this important work at www.fswc.org.