I am 32 years old. Thirty-two. And that’s not old. Or at least it doesn’t seem like the kind of number that one hears and says, “my goodness, how old!” Unless, I suppose, you’re talking about a person enrolled in elementary school or making their major league debut or something. But for most of life’s circumstances, 32 isn’t old.
But we all feel old sometimes, right? I mean, I can remember being a teenager and realizing that stuff I did and remembered perfectly was over ten years ago. I felt ancient. Now it’s been thirteen years since I was last a teenager. The gap between my current age and my last teenage age is, itself, a teenage. Crazy, right? And many days, I don’t even think about age. Most days I’m either completely indifferent or feel comparatively young. But here are the little things that make me feel old now.
The Stuff I Do
First off, here’s the stuff that I actually do that makes me feel old. And I don’t mean the grey hairs that become a little more numerous every day. I mean having to have reading glasses close by in case a restaurant menu or something on my phone is too small to see. Or the fact that I can’t make it through a 9:00 p.m. tipoff Mavericks game any more unless it’s on the weekend and I can convince myself to stay up until almost midnight. Or the way I stretch almost every day because otherwise my back gets tight and I won’t be able to sleep comfortably.
Or maybe it’s the dietary changes. I take a vitamin every day. My taste is shifting from more savory to more sweet. I can’t have caffeine after noon or so or I won’t sleep that night. I can’t eat spicy food after about 1:00 p.m. or I will have to have a handful of Tums before bed. I love eating pimento cheese sandwiches, which is not something I did in my prime athletic years. I’m terrified that one day I’ll look down and realize I’m eating a bran muffin, creamed corn, and meatloaf and washing the whole thing down with prune juice.
I don’t like driving at night like I used to. I’ve been reading more books on World War II and the Cold War, which seem to be old man habits. I can’t sleep past about 6:30 unless I’ve had too much to drink or twice the recommended dosage of Unisom. I get frustrated when the computer things I have to use regularly (email, court filing portals, etc.) go through stylistic updates and I have to relearn where everything is. I have a piece of paper in my home with all of my passwords written on it. I’m old.
The Stuff Others Do
This is the stuff that scares me the most. Stuff like not understanding what young people say on television shows. My sister teaches middle school, so sometimes she’ll let me in the loop so I know what kids mean when they say the stuff they say, but for the most part, I don’t get it. And it’s not even just the stuff kids say, it’s what the people I consider kids are doing. I watch a lot of sports, and I’ve seen a couple rookies who were born in 2002. That freaked me out. I get emails about Texas A&M’s recruiting class, and some of those kids were born in 2003, which is the year I started high school, and that’s upsetting.
Things seem too loud, too. People driving through the neighborhood (and speeding, I might add) will listen to music on max volume. And that pisses me off for two completely unrelated reasons. The first is that it’s obnoxious and distracting to listen to music that loud. The second is that I don’t recognize the songs anymore. I doubt I would have liked the songs anyway, but it would have at least been nice to know that I could name the song and artist.
No one cards me anymore. If 21-year-old me could hear me complaining about this, he’d be upset. But 32-year-old me doesn’t like that even with a mask and hat on, cashiers won’t card me. Maybe if I bought some Boonesfarm and Keystone Light that would do the trick.
Some people I went to high school with have kids who are almost in middle school. That makes me feel old. I don’t feel like anyone my age is old enough to have a 12- or 13- or 14-year-old kid. I got asked the other day if my law firm would want to sponsor a little league baseball team. Holy crap, man. I’m not old enough to have peers with kids who are old enough to play kid-pitch baseball. But, then, of course, I am, it turns out.
Someone pointed out that Friends aired its last episode in May of 2004. I believe I had friends over to watch it, and some of them drove themselves. That seems like a long time ago. For that matter, The Office has been off the air for almost eight years, but I remember watching episodes of Season Four in Cosas Totum’s own Blaze Fyre’s dorm room our freshman year. Actors I remember being young now look old, and actors I remember looking old now look like they’ve been eligible for Social Security and Medicare for several years. Hell, one of the guys from *Nsync (Chris Kirkpatrick, pictured in his *Nsync days and more recently) will be 50 this year. FIFTY. Oof. I feel old.
And it’s not limited to Chris Kirkpatrick. All of the people who were on the pop stations when I was growing up are not really old, but older than I think they should be. Britney Spears will be 40 this year. Christina Aguilera will be 41 in December. Wallflowers frontman Jakob Dylan will be 52. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins is 54, and their song “1979” came out 26 years ago. For perspective, 1979 was sixteen years before the song out in 1995, meaning that 1995 is ten years closer to 1979 than it is to today. If a song was released with the same proportions now, it would be called “2005” and would have lyrics about going to a Ludacris concert and driving a 2001 Mustang. Ricky Martin will be 50 in December. Who gave these people permission to age at the standard rate of one year per year? They’re not supposed to be real adult age. They’re supposed to be in their early 20s. Not fair.
I could go on. Kids referring to the 1990s as “the late twentieth century.” SpongeBob SquarePants coming on Nick at Nite, which used to only be for “old” shows. Those Buzzfeed things that say “If you remember this, you’re eligible for a senior discount,” but it’s something that I don’t remember because I was too old for that thing when it came out. Seriously. I saw one of those the other day and it was for some cartoon I’d never heard of that aired on Nickelodeon from 2004 to 2008 or something like that. I saw a book at Half Price Books the other day. It was about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and was in the “History–U.S. History” section of the store. Ugh. But I won’t go on anymore because all this typing will probably give me arthritis in my old, creaky bones.
I am at peace with grey hair. I know there’s no point in fighting it. And I don’t want to color my hair. I won’t judge people who do, but it’s just not for me. But it’s all the other stuff; the no spicy food, no caffeine, and telling those DAMN KIDS TO GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN! Okay, so I haven’t actually done that, yet. But I did have some neighbor kids come knock on my door because they accidentally hit a ball into my backyard, and that made me feel old. And I know that there are many facets of aging that are all in my head. For instance, I know that 32 is objectively not old. And I know that I am still capable of doing a lot of things that I may not be able to do at 42 or 52 or 62. But still, I feel old before my time. And like any reasonable person, I went on the Internet to complain about it, which I think makes me officially old.
So here I leave you, a man of 32 physical and 75 mental years. A man who remembers billboard advertising the season premier of Seinfeld. A man who used to have to look up Pizza Hut’s number in the phone book then call them on a landline and read the physical coupon I had. A man who was in college when the iPhone came out. But hey, here’s to (hopefully) another 50+ years, with a wife who loves me, a job that satisfies me, and food in the fridge.