Hand Modeling For The Over Fifties
Sprachen Sie Deutsch?
The weird thing about getting older is you that you become less visible. Even though you've lived longer and seen more, somehow you become less relevant.
Mark and I are in the process of swanking up our wee guesthouse to rent out. We were out hunting gathering this week and passed a youngish guy who was out in his front yard planting vegetables. We’re not strangers to the growing of vegetables ourselves, so we stopped to compliment him on his beds and chat about the management of horticultural pests, but it was not to be. Once the compliment about the growing conditions were over, he patronizingly yeah yeah yeahed us in the way my kids used to do when I asked if they'd done their homework. When I talked about my tomato seedlings, he literally looked at me as if I'd just boasted about my age while standing in the queue at the post office.
The fact is, he couldn't be arsed talking to us because we're old.
It crossed my mind that I could have said to him, “Look you wee hipster douchebag, I have shoes older than you, so how about sticking that patronizing attitude up your arse.” But I didn’t, obviously, because I’m lovely.
It’s not a surprise to me that I’ve moved into an older demographic, it was just weird to be up close and personal to it. Hipster douchebag was no spring chick himself. I reckoned he was about 29 which is just about exactly the same age I feel I am inside.
When I was 29, I behaved a bit differently. I was up to a lot of mischief with my friend Ashley. We were such a dangerous combination. We were different but the same. She worked in the music business. I know buggar all about music - when she played me a pre-released early recording of the Spice Girls, and I said I didn't see how they'd be famous. We’d go out drinking and say we were hand models and do different hand poses for people that we professed to be very “of the moment.” Or we’d profess to work in the posh frock department of a very well known upmarket London department store and advise people on their clothing for special occasions. My partner in crime, she showed up with a ticket to visit Graceland when my life was tricky . I was on a vacation with her when I discovered I'm fluent in German only when I drink rum.
Of course, time and life moves on. 2 years ago I called her on her birthday. We laughed about stupid stuff. She told me loved me and that I was a nightmare, and I said I'd have a drink later and talk some German in her honor. She was dead two weeks later.
Friends are not supposed to die. We're not biologically programmed for that. I miss her. I will always miss her. And the hipster douchebag with the wispy beard will never know her, and that will be his loss.
So I am perfectly aware that I am lucky that I get to get older, and also unlucky because it has to be without her.
Aging is inevitable. It's a gift. Admittedly it can be scary because of the physical stuff, but the truth is the physical stuff can get you at any age.
Why are we meant to be ashamed that we get old, especially since the very best thing about getting older is the lack of vanity?
Back when I was 29 Chesney Hawkes was a guy I knew from Top Of The Pops. Now we do a podcast together, his kids are friends with my kids, and Mark and I are friends with him and his wife Krissy. When he goes off to the UK for work, he brings me back my ‘old lady cream' that they sell over there. I did say to him once that was worried he'd be spotted by some tabloid and there's be the headline: “Chesney Hawkes uses old lady cream!” to which he replied, “Fuck it. I've been accused of much worse.”
As we headed off from the hipster guy, I asked Mark if he’d noticed how the guy had blanked us because we were old.
“Who cares? He said, “You have shoes older than him.”
“Right!?!” I said. “ I do. Want to hear about my tomato seedlings?”
“Oh go on then,” he smiled.
I took his arm. “Alright, but let's go and buy me some Mai Tai, first. I'm thinking of speaking some German tonight.”
Notes From The Valley is a reader-supported publication. Subscribe for free. To receive audio posts, other wee tidbits and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.