Youth is largely a habit. So is romance.
Richard Le Gallienne
One thing I have never really understood is some people’s prejudicial and limiting attitude about age. To label oneself or anyone else in terms of age is a conspiracy against human happiness and ability. It may seem as though I am dwelling a lot on this topic these days. That’s because it was an issue during my recent six weeks of misery.
If a technician asked me to read something off the screen, it took my a while because the font is small and I don’t see that well. If he told me to write something in a box, I had to ask him to slow down and repeat himself so I would get it right. If he asked for my phone number I had to stop and think about it. It’s not on the tip of my tongue because I never dial it.
Put it all together and what have you got? Simple. I’m a stupid, senile old toot who can’t understand anything.
I met a girl recently who told me she was 14 and a half years old. I chuckled to myself that for her a half of a year was an important milestone. I told her not to grow up too fast. Youngsters never want to hear that. They want to grow up as fast as they can and emerge into adulthood where they will be free of restrictions. Ha, ha, ha.
I was directing a production of “The Fantasticks” and the young actor playing the boy had a line about the girl which read “She makes me young again.” In rehearsal he kept saying “She makes me FEEL young again” which isn’t humorous. I corrected him each time. But he kept getting it wrong. Finally I told him this true story.
I was hiking up Middle Moat Mountain in New Hampshire one bright summer day. The mountain is almost all open space and rocky. I had my shirt off, tied around my waist and my back pack on my shoulders. I was about 40 years old and feeling great. Up ahead I saw two girls coming down. It’s unusual to meet people on a trail. Usually you just say hello, nod and keep going. As they passed me they were talking about a boy. One of them said “I still see him. But he’s old now. He’s almost 20.” I felt like turning around and giving them a lecture about oldness.
After I told the story I asked the young actor how old he was. When he said he was 19 I said “Oh, my God. You’re old. You’re over the hill and on your way down. It’s over for you. There’s nothing left. You’re done for. You’re old.” Pause. “And what does she do for you?” “She makes me young again” he said. He never got the line wrong after that.
I knew a woman in her mid thirties whose widower father was dating a woman. My friend couldn’t understand it. “What does he think he’s doing/” “He’s looking for some romance” I said. “But at his age” she said. “He’s old.” “So what” I said. “You’re never too old for romance.”
Now I’m 70 and a half years old. There are some bad habits I would like to get rid of, but I don’t want to lose my addiction to youth. And if I met the right woman, no matter what her age, I would gladly say “She makes me young again.”
DB - The Vagabond