My parents come from a land where age ain’t nothing but a numba. Not even a numba, actually. People don’t give a rat’s ass about how old they are back in the homeland. I remember having conversations with aunts and uncles and cousins where I would ask them how old they were and they would shrug and say things like “uh, I don’t know. Forty, maybe? Forty-five? I know I’m somewhere in my forties.” As a child, a very American child who was used to birthday cake and presents and parties, I would bug out at this sort of answer. “But, when is your birthday?” I would ask. “I don’t really remember. In the spring. I’ll have to go look at my passport and I can tell you an exact date then. Now let’s go eat a mango! They are falling from the sky!”
Ok so they didn’t really say that stuff about the mangoes. I just put that in because eating mangoes that fall from the sky (or, um, mango trees) is one of the great pasttimes of the Motherland. (I almost typed Mothership there, instead of Motherland. But that’s a totally different thing, to be discussed at another time).
The point being, how old one is is totally not at all important there. No one thinks about it. No one cares. No one is obsessed with seeming younger. Or older. They are too busy sitting in all that white sand and swimming in warm blue reefwaters and serious business like that. Isn’t that age-free mentality hard to picture? Isn’t it weird to even try to think like that?
Not for some people. Take, for instance, my dear Nordic Boy. As anyone who knows him well can attest, he is as far from Island native as you can get. Corn-fed midwest boy is what he is, all American, apple pie, blah blah, stars and stripes. But that guy? Cannot remember his age to save his life. I have known him many years now, and at any given moment, you can ask him how old he is, and HE WON’T KNOW. He will just blurt out some number, and then look at me as if to say “Is that right? It sounds ok, but is that right?” NO, it is not right. And not only is it not right, he is always aging himself. He always thinks he is older than what he really is. ALWAYS. And you want to know something? The only reason I really care about him knowing his age is that I am the same age and when he ages himself, he is dragging me right down with him and I DON’T LIKE IT.
I am not proud of this. Don’t hate. Appreciate.
I know I should be thankful that he doesn’t care about this crap. Perhaps it will rub off on me at some point in our lives. It’s only fair, right? I mean, there are lots of ways in which we have taught each other valuable things. I have taught him how to eat/love super spicy food, and how to do a spot-on Indian “screw in the lightbulb, wipe the table” dance maneuver. (And if you are unclear on that particular dance move, you need to get yourself to an Indian party, pronto). The least he can do is teach me how to forget my age.
Today is the birthday. If you ask him how old he is turning, he may say 72. Just nod and smile and tell him he must soak in a Palmolive/Oil of Olay stew to maintain his youthful veneer. And I will do my best not to freak out.