Getting Old, Part 1

I never thought I would be one of those people writing this sort of thing. I mean this is the sort of stuff Dave Berry or Erma Bombeck would write about—the stuff my mother or my grandparents would read. But I guess the fact that I know who Dave Berry and Erma Bombeck are is proof of something I’ve been wrestling with for a minute or two: I am getting old.

About four months ago I was working on a project in conjunction with a local community college. There were a few students working on the project with me, the oldest of whom was all of 20 years-old. Twenty. That doesn’t really seem that young to me, just like being 38 doesn’t seem all that old. But then I realized that this 20 year-old kid was actually young enough to be my son, and a strange feeling started to overtake me.

Whenever I would talk to the students, trying to impart upon them the wisdom I have gleaned over the years, they would stare at me, with these blank expressions, as if unable to comprehend whatever foreign language I was speaking. I could hear myself rambling on, talking in nonsequiturs just like my grandfather, as these kids stared at me with these indifferent expressions that seemed to say, “What is this old fucker talking about?” And I knew that look well, because in my youth it was permanently etched on my face whenever some “old” person tried to tell me anything.

Everything came to a head when I caught some of the students smoking weed on campus one night. I don’t ever recall having an out-of-body experience before, but that’s exactly what happened to me that night. For a brief moment I actually stepped outside my own body and saw myself as I heard the words, “You kids shouldn’t be doing that on campus,” coming out of my mouth. My spirit, which had momentarily left my body was mortified. It screamed at my physical being, “What the fuck are you saying?!”

And in an instant, it was all over. I had actually caught some students smoking weed, and I said to them, “You kids shouldn’t be doing that on campus.” My whole world crashed down around me. When I was their age, if I wasn’t showing up to school hung over, I was skipping school to get drunk.

Don’t get me wrong, I rarely miss getting drunk or high. Although I must admit, even as I was admonishing those kids for getting high at school, the same voice that was yelling at me for scolding them was also telling me to ask them for a hit. But I haven’t been drunk in something like 15 years, and it’s been about 13 years since I last smoked pot. Those days are gone with no regrets. But that doesn’t mean some things don’t sting.

“You kids shouldn’t be doing that on campus.”

What kind of old, stick-up-his-ass bastard had I become?

That night I went home, and sank into a deep depression as I mourned the passing of my youth.

2 Responses to “Getting Old, Part 1”

  1. Kung Fu Pimp Says:

    With great [age] comes great responsibility.

  2. Chief Scalpum Whiteman Says:

    You think you feel old now? Wait’ll the first time you yell, “Hey, you kids! Get off of my lawn!”

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