When I was forty-five years old James and I did something so very out of character for us… we want to a bar. Remember, I don’t even drink, however we were up in Orlando doing the Disney thing when one evening, we saw a gay Country/Western bar that was giving line-dancing lessons. As you already know, I am a big fan of country music so on a lark; we went in to check it out.
We weren’t there very long before I noticed a very handsome, young, Adonis of a man about 20-21 years of age, looking at me. At first I thought I must have had something terribly wrong like food in my hair or a stain on my shirt but it turned out, he was “cruising” me! He walked across the bar staring at me the entire time. When he finally reached me, he stopped, looked deep into my eyes and said (and I quote) “Hellooooo daddy!” and then asked if he could buy me a drink. Laughing from one; the shock of being called “daddy” and two; the disbelief that he wanted me, I quickly explained to him that I was in a committed relationship but was very flattered by his interest. That was no lie. I was indeed flattered that a guy who was drop-dead gorgeous, not to mention young enough to be my son (and could have his pick of anyone in the establishment) had picked me. “Hello daddy” was somehow quite a compliment.
Fast-forward ten years. Keeping in mind that the last three have taken a considerable toll on me, dealing with chronic medical conditions. Now forty pounds heavier, considerably grayer with a face that can’t hide how tired I have become, I was accosted once again. I was at a gas station minding my own business, pumping gas when I noticed a young lad about 22-25 years old approaching me. He was a nice looking fellow who wore a big smile but I couldn’t help wonder why he was coming over to me. “I hope he’s not going to ask for money,” I thought to myself. As he reached me he smiled even broader, before he said in a very friendly voice, “How ya doin’ pops? That’s a nice car ya got there! I like the color too!” Having said his piece, he just continued walking by. It took a moment to register but then it hit me like a ton of bricks. POPS? All I can say is ouch! Yes I know that I am old enough to be a grandfather, and I admit that the last few years have not been kind to me but POPS? That’s what you call an “old” man. Didn’t he know that inside I still feel like I’m thirty two? Not since I want to the movies several months ago and asked the teenager behind the window for two tickets, only to have her answer “two seniors?” have I felt so deflated.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not an old fool. I am well aware that I have had my day in the sun. I know that at 55 years old, I am beyond middle-aged (unless the new life expectancy has been raised to 110!) and I am fine with stepping down and making room for a new generation… but must I be forced to have it shoved in my face by the newer, faster, shiner models of today? Aren’t the body aches, morning medications and unexplained forgetfulness reminder enough? Must “pops” be thrown into that mixture as well?
Now in both of these incidents, I was being reminded that I was no longer considered a young man, however “hellooooo daddy” made me feel that I was holding up well for my age, considered [at the very least] distinguished and yes I’ll say it, even retaining a certain sex appeal. The most recent occurrence on the other hand, made me feel like Wilford Brimley’s older [and less attractive] brother! As you can imagine, this is not a day brightener by any stretch of the imagination. It made me wonder, is “hey grandpa” lurking around the next corner?
So to all you young guys out there I implore you, when you’re dealing with us elders, why not call us “buddy,” “friend” even “sir” is a sign of respect without implying we’ve got one foot in the grave. Do it and you’ll be glad you did, as I promise you this… in the blink of an eye you’ll be walking in my shoes and I hope that someone will spare you the gut punch of a premature “pops.” Stop laughing! It seems premature to me!
Until next time,