There comes a point in every person’s life when it dawns on you: “when it’s all said and done, this is who I am” – when you allow yourself to imagine a version of you, stripped of your present identifiers, and realize that you’re not always going to have a career or good looks or athleticism. You consider your own mortality and wonder ‘who will I be when I die?’ Typically, this occurs after a period of mid-life crisis, where attempts to reclaim one’s youth fail miserably and result in an exorbitant purchase, physical injury or unfulfilling fling.
Me? I knew what kind of old man I would (will) become at the stroke of 30 years old. The writing has been on the wall since I was a child, really. I spent the majority of my impressionable childhood under the same roof as my grandfather, Coldridge.
Let’s pause for a second to recognize one of the illest names of all time: Coldridge
…but as I was saying: Coldridge was tall and lean – stern-faced but loving to his grandkids – cool, wise and relaxed. At least that’s how I saw him in his larger-than-life stature, from my knee-high perspective and, at this point, no one can convince me otherwise. Being around him sewed the seeds of who I wanted to be as an old guy, or an adult in general.
But that’s just the subconscious framework. My true realizations have been more tangible than that.
For one, I love the feel of a good bathrobe – freshly washed and right out of the dryer, especially. I see myself, eventually, with a summer robe and a winter robe – light and airy for the warm months, thick and cozy for the cold. Step out of the shower, pat dry a little bit and just drape on the luxury. I’m a very modest guy in general but I have no qualms about you seeing me in my bath robe when I’m at home. There’s something about the confines of my own walls; I feel there’s an implied ‘enter at your own risk’ agreement. That attitude will only gain potency with age – to the point that, eventually, my grandkids will be pre-warning their friends about how I’m a little off. I just know myself; the level of not-giving-a-shit-ness is on the rise and sooner or later I’ll reach the point of being just a little too leisurely in my robe. Maybe you saw a sliver of aged testicle, maybe you didn’t. Either way, you’re keeping it to yourself.
Perhaps the cornerstone characteristic of old people is their unfiltered candor. I find myself increasingly incapable of letting shit go. That may surprise many people who have met me because the general consensus is that I’m pretty agreeable. Here’s the thing: the more I know you or care about you, the more likely I am to tell you how I really feel. I’ve made a concerted effort, recently, to let more people into my life and once you’re in, that’s it – I care; no more kid gloves for you. Do the math: more opinionated toward the people I care about + more people I care about = don’t come to me for a cosign if you’re not prepared for a counter. Listen, I’m not very perceptive about your sensitivities. I don’t know if you’re coming to me for agreement and comfort or if you’re really asking my opinion. I also tend to lean pretty literal because, by ignoring subtext, it often forces people to verbalize what they really want from you. So, when a friend of a friend recently described a scenario to me and asked “Do you think I’m being a jerk?” and I said, “Yes, a little bit,” I realized that my filter has broadened from ‘people I care about’ to ‘the people cared about by the people I care about.’ Pretty soon… everyone.
I’m also becoming more curmudgeonly in nature and any self-respecting old person must have things they simply won’t abide. My current list includes: littering, glitter, bullying, pouring mixers into top-shelf whiskey, mistreatment of women, dishonesty, white chocolate, lateness, limp handshakes, intolerance, racism, people who cross the street on a green light and act like they’re too cool to hurry the fuck up and want to look at you like you’re the crazy one, and opossums.
Conversely there are things I will cherish forever, like: whiskey, peanut butter, movies, life-long friendships, sandwiches, writing, the word smorgasbord, hot fudge sundaes and thunderstorms.
Maybe I’m being short sighted, but all signs point in the same direction. I’m going to be that old guy who says whatever, holding a whiskey in one hand – a peanut butter and hot fudge sundae sandwich in the other, shaking his disgruntled fist at misogynistic, white chocolate chomping, leisurely street-crossing, liar opossums, on his porch, in his bath robe, maybe showing a little bit of nut sack… maybe not. That’s my journey.
At this point, I’m realizing that this has been a pretty radical departure from what I normally write – a purely introspective, self-satisfying look at who I think (know) I’ll be as an old man. But then again, this blog is kind of like my home. I’m never going to apologize for what I do inside of these walls; and when you think about it, what could be more exemplary of the stubborn old dude I’m becoming.