Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Retro Man

The Opel hostess at the recent Amsterdam Auto Show was overly enthusiast. She was young, dressed like you expect a hostess is dressed and regarded me as a possible Opel client. While all I was doing was admiring the colour scheme of the small Adam hipster, a 1970s combo of beige and brown. 'Do you like the car, sir?' she asked. 'I love the color,' I answered in true honesty. Her reply hit me like a bullet. 'Yes, a bit like your style, retro.' 

The writing is on the wall. There's no denying. We can tell ourselves we still look good for our age, but other people tell us the truth. Grin and bare it. It would have been a fun story to tell on parties, if not just a few weeks later a similar situation confronted me.
I'm a Timberland boat shoe addict, I admit it. Timberland offers these in two flavors, a sleek and somewhat flimsy version, and a more robust model. I always go for that Bauhaus model, they last forever, pay for themselves and you can wear 'm in winter. That's what I wanted, but that was not what the shoe shop had in stock. 'Sold at selected stores', so no point in finding them somewhere else without any effort. 'I'm sorry sir, I can order them for you, but Timberland prefers to show the more fashionable and hip shoes in stores nowadays.' Just read that again, and I can tell you it still echoes through my brain. I'm retro and not hip. I'm getting old. Verging on the threshold of obsolete, unnoticed. At least, in the eyes of people who do not know me.

Some people wear age like a jewel. They seem to cultivate the best of themselves year after year. Sophia Loren comes to mind, and Marilyn Monroe was prettier with every year in her short life. Merrill Streep, can we picture her not looking like she does now? A few years ago, I touched upon this subject when I wrote a blog story about two celebrities, Tom Jones and George Clooney, who manage to look cool, no matter that they are both getting older.

Frank Sinatra could sing about aging in his own inimitable way, poetry in music, a voice acting on notes, 'It was a very good year'. But Francis Albert does not sing about physical decay, and that's actually what will confront us in the coming years – and I know, it has already set in. I never had any illusion there of course. Always while visiting the sauna with my far younger cousin, I noticed the women peeking at him – yes ladies, you do that – and not at me. He was always quite muscular, shaped by years of jiujitsu practice, while gravity had its effect on me for a long, long time now. But the gradations of its uncharitable effects can differ for any individual of course. And one should know how not to shock others when it hits you. It was probably one of the most gruesome sights I was ever confronted with. An elderly man just outside the sauna cabin, starkers, bent forward to dry his feet with a towel and presented us with a view I do not want to recall. Let's just say that he must have been able to mob the floor with his testicles. Both my cousin and I were staring in utter disgust. 'Promise me,' I asked him, 'warn me if I ever look like that.' But no help to be expected there. The tenor of his evasive reply was clear. 'You're on your own.'

But I should admit, his company as a minor was once one of my moments of glory. While getting some cans of beer in an American supermarket, I was asked for my ID, no matter I was 43 at the moment. You can feel worse, I tell you that. And that's what I did, just a few years later. At the checkout counter of a Carson Pirie Scott department store in Atlanta, Georgia, where I was paying for a gorgeous Hilfiger jacket, discounted from $400 to $80, a young whippersnapper asked a deadly question. 'Are you eligible for any senior citizen discount, sir?'

1 comment:

  1. Well-expressed. I empathise. Am feeling it too. Let's love ourselves more, and be kinder to each other, as time speeds by.