Tonight when the clock strikes the midnight hour and the seconds needle sails past in too much of a hurry if you ask me, to usher in the new day, moi steps delicately and one hopes with the right foot forward to the wrong side of half a century. Egad! Did I just say, half a century??!! Ummm uh oh… that means I have been twiddling my thumbs here on Earth, far away from my home-land (which of course is Neptune for the info any newbies around), for fifty long years, which translates into a whopping six hundred in months, two thousand five hundred or thereabouts in weeks, ____ in days, ____ in hours, ____ in minutes and ____ in seconds all of which I am not willing to write down for understandable reasons. Some wise guy who is better in computation than moi which is like the whole population on planet Earth (I recently asked the Penguin how many zeroes were there in a million and he went into paroxysms of laughter) is going to come along and punch holes in my calculations. And we cannot have that can we, especially when moi, already in a slightly distressed state of mind might get slightly more worked up at the implied slight and punch the poor know-it-all of a puncher-of-holes giving him/her a black eye, the half a century not withstanding.
Now the curious readers among you might be wondering about the slightly distressed state of my mind. In the meantime, some others I am sure are already going snigger snigger having jumped erroneously to what seems to them obvious conclusions, attributing the slightly distressed state to the phobia women have of advancing years. Hello!! Beg your pardon dear Jumpers to Erroneous Conclusions. It is not merely women who go all coy and secretive when it comes to age. In my long innings, I have seen an equal number of men if not more, worried about the same advancing age and hiding it from all and sundry securely under wraps and trying to pass off as younger than they actually are. A friend of mine once told me that when he replied ‘Forty-four, Male, India’ to that all important question, ‘ASL??’ familiar to netizens all over and that which sets the ball rolling in net conversations, it was received with an incredulous, “Aww come on now! How can that be?? Men on the net are all either in their mid-thirties or late twenties!! Are you sure you are forty-four??” I rest my case.
Anyways what bothers me as I step tentatively into the golden fifties is not the advancing age or the attendant bonuses the wrinkles, the graying and falling hair or even the failing eyesight, the creaking joints or the errrr… ahem… splutter… splutter… oh aahh well umm… the increasing girth. Phew, there I managed to say it. These are all (for moi) minor irritants to be faced with equanimity if not total disregard. The problem, a trivial thing actually, no great shakes, lies elsewhere. Now that the golden fifty is at my doorstep, there will be more of those unobtrusively raised eye-brows at moi and her ways. I will have to face even more of that (to moi) mystifying and unclear phrase ‘Act your age!’ thrown my way, not directly (for very few would dare) but indirectly via sugar coated and brightly gift wrapped ‘innocuous’ remarks.
This ‘Act Your Age’ or its close relatives, Dress Your Age, Speak Your Age et al are phrases that I have never really understood the meaning of. Act your age?? Now what would that mean?? Hmmm… let me think. Does it mean that each birthday comes with a set of instructions on how to behave the following year?? Something like: Here is your fiftieth birthday. Hence forth you shall dress in such and such a way, deport yourself in such and such a manner. You don’t do this, you don’t do that and don’t you even think of doing something else altogether. Blah blah blah and blah. Is that what it means?? Or perhaps are such instructions for groups of years??
Do the instructions change over time or are they supposed to hold good for years and years altogether?? And pray who are the pompous asses (mind you, I do mean the animal though why asses should be considered pompous is beyond my limited intellgence) who make these unofficial rules?? And why do people follow the instructions of a bunch of pompous asses (reference is to the animals again), blindly?? Why do most of them even think it should be followed blindly?? I remember at five I was walking behind my little brother with a plate full of curd rice and veggies trying to feed him. I don’t remember anyone telling me, ‘Act your age! Go out and play!’ But I am sure they will bundle me off to the nearest lunatic asylum if I were to act like a child again. Why??
This reminds me of the time I read a discussion going on at a blog post about the way people dress. One of the comments was by a young lady in her late twenties. She said it was funny how some older people tried to dress like younger ones. Her exact words, people in their thirties trying to dress like those in their twenties or teens. That comment of hers made me think. Do you have a dress code for people of the 30s/40s/50s etc?? And are they barred from wearing the latest in vogue popular with other groups?? Who says so and why should it be adhered to?? Do you mean to say as soon as one reaches 30 he/she stops wearing a certain kind of dress associated with the twenty-somethings?? Oh yeah?? Says who??
To my question a young boy asked a counter question. Would you go out with an eighty-year old man dressed in the latest teen fashion ripped jeans and some sort of tees or open shirt revealing his gray haired chest was what the boy asked. I was simply amazed. I mean is this a question at all??
I replied: Whether I go out or not with an eighty year old man dressed in the latest teenage style of dressing is entirely my personal choice. But the point under discussion is whether the eighty year old man has the right to wear ripped jeans (whatever they are) and an open shirt showing off his gray haired chest. And if it is just a matter of your aesthetic sense being offended, how about looking away and letting others be??
The ideas that we have about how each age group should behave, dress, act, speak are nothing but what we are used to because that’s what we have seen the majority of people doing most of our lives. How about coming out of this limited way of thinking and asking, why it should be so?? Why should something seem right just because we are used to it, because a large number is following it?? A few years back a married woman down south would not be allowed to wear anything other than a sari Why?? I don’t think I have heard one valid reason as yet. But it was considered an iron clad rule.
I cannot agree with people who make remarks like, ‘That dress doesn’t look good on her. She is fat’ (Who decides which dress looks good on well proportioned people?? And why the discrimination?? You mean if you don’t fit into others perception of what the right size is, you cannot wear what you like??) or ‘That color is too bright for her age’ (Who decides which colors suit what age??) or …… it goes on and on. You know the ‘n’ number of things people have to say about what suits whom. When we say such things, doesn’t it just show our taste in things, mostly the result of conditioned thinking. Does that mean it is the right one?? As long as the person wearing it is comfortable, what’s anyone else’s problem??
During one of our many ponderings, the senior son told me that there is coded information in one of our genes that makes us conform. Conformity is to ensure survival; those who conform have better chances at it, I believe. But then if there is only conformity, there will be no progress. Maybe that is why you have a sprinkling among the herd of those with the conformity gene missing, those who are willing to question and make others think and others who go out and do things that are different. Perhaps I am one of those non-conformists, Though I have not yet gone out and done anything spectacular, I certainly question what most seem to take in their stride and I hope I do make people think with my questions, at least a handful.
…and oh yeah by the way, I refuse to act my age!
This post is written in a hurry as deadline approach-eth. Any mistakes shall be corrected on the morrow when moi has had her beauty sleep and is fresh as a daisy. But before I go,
Happy Birthday to moi