View Mobile Site

Act my age? I certainly hope I never fall into that trap

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED March 31, 2010 2:33 a.m.
I’m 54 today and I’m still not “acting my age,” whatever that annoying little saying is supposed to mean.

I was told at 19 by what I guess was a well-meaning person that I had no business being on a school board since I had no children.

A few years later, I had a relative tell me that no self-respecting 22- year-old wore suits all of the time. That little tidbit will come as a shock to a few people today who don’t hesitate to point out the fact I wear shorts every chance I get even in the winter inferring that someone who is in their 50s should wear something more befitting their age.

I was told point-blank by a so-called family friend while he grabbed my hair that was barely touching my collar when I was 25 and volunteering at a fund raiser that my father –who had been dead at that point in my life 18 years – would be embarrassed if he were alive because I wasn’t wearing my hair in a crew cut as not doing so was inappropriate for someone of my age.

One time on a date when I was 31 with a woman that was within a few years of my age who occupied herself while we were driving to the Music Circus by flipping through my cassette tapes, told me that I was an old fuddy-duddy because no one my age should have five Frank Sinatra tapes.

An acquaintance from high school at our five-year reunion spent an inordinate amount of time telling everyone in close proximity that it was unnatural for a 23-year-old male not to drink booze so there must be something wrong with me. She spent the entire night trying to slip vodka ice cubes in my sodas. (And people wonder why I avoid attending high school reunions with the same intensity I try to avoid open-heart surgery).

I was doing a story when I was 27 or so when a well-meaning person I was interviewing told me it wasn’t healthy for a person as young as I was to weigh so much. (I weighed probably 290 pounds if not more at the time.)

Five years later, an older family friend told me it wasn’t right that I was so “stuck on myself” because I was spending literally 30-plus hours a week bicycling or going to aerobics classes instead of doing something more substantial for a person my age plus I seemed a little too smug since I had dropped weight. (I weighed 190 at the time). They never explained what they meant by “more substantial” endeavors since I was spending about as much time volunteering and virtually every other waking minute working at my job.

When I bought a new Datsun 280ZX in 1982, I had an aunt on my father’s side of the family whose favorite pastime was finding fault with nephews and nieces tell me that someone my age should not buy such a car since it reflected “immaturity” and “self-centered tendencies.”

Then when I purchased a 1985 Volvo 740 as a 29-year-old, she ridiculed me for “driving an old man’s car.”

By the time I was 32, I had lost count of the number of friends and relatives who managed to tell me at least once a week that someone my age should be married, own a home and have started a family. Twenty years later, I was told by a virtual stranger that it wasn’t healthy for someone “my age” to be divorced and single.

And perhaps my most enduring recollection of comments made by people who felt I wasn’t living up to their standards for age came from a skinny uncle who enjoyed poking me in the stomach as a 9 year-old and telling me “it was disgusting for someone my age to be so fat.”

Twenty-three years later after I had lost a hundred pounds and had become an exercise fanatic, the same uncle who had since gained enough weight to pass as Jackie Gleason’s double, was criticizing me as it was a sign “of obsession at my age that I was exercising so much.”

So here I am at 54.

I’m sure I’m still doing things that no self-respecting person my age would – exercising seven days a week, shunning ties, wearing shorts too often, or basically doing anything that whoever is passing judgment isn’t doing.

Age is a state of mind.

It’s not cast in stone that an 85-year-old isn’t supposed to bicycle across the United States nor is it written that a 20-year-old isn’t supposed to found a company that becomes the world’s most successful high-tech company.

Such things happen because the 85-year-old isn’t acting his age by committing himself to a sedentary lifestyle simply because he has white or gray hair and is four times older than others who couldn’t even cross town on a bicycle without collapsing let alone a continent.

By the same token, that former 20-year-old is a titan of high-tech commerce today because he didn’t accept the conventional ageism that infers he should have been chugging beer and acting wild instead of putting his nose to the grindstone.

So am I acting my age today?

I certainly hope not.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...