Alex M forwarded this fascinating little piece written by Douglas Copeland. He talks about how men view aging. Copeland is a well known writer and he was born in 1961. Here are two even more famous people who werre born in 1961.
Below are some snips from the article along with my comments in bold.
A few days ago, I had a business lunch with a guy I thought was about 10 years older than I am. I’m 46, and he looked to be 55 and resembled every English teacher you’ve ever had. At the end of lunch he said, “You know, I was born the same week as you…” and went on to discuss all the same music we listened to in high school. Meanwhile, it was all I could do to compose myself while looking around for a reflective surface — a knife blade, the hologram on my Visa card — to convince myself I didn’t look 55 like this guy did. I felt as if I had progeria, that disease in which you age half a century in five years. That’s what growing older does to a guy.
Progeria is a strange, terrible and fascinating birth defect that accelerates the aging process in children.
Ashley is doing really well for someone aged 14, most kids with this syndrome do not live to see their teen aged years.
We’ve all bumped into friends who look like hell. Our first thought is always divorce, booze, or one of those other wicked speed bumps on the road of life. What’s really happening, of course, is that your friend is in the middle of a progerial plunge. Time passes, and more time passes, and then you see that friend in the checkout line of a Safeway one afternoon, and you realize he’s not drinking or having troubles. He’s just aging. The kicker: So I must be too. That’s when you head to the produce department and check yourself out in the mirrors above the lettuce and celery.
This is an interesting and terribly fearful position. We all begin normal aging near the end of our 20’s. It is a sign of how deep our cultural denial is that this absolutely universal phenomenon (aging) is offered up as something so alien that it can only be recognized in others.
I have this theory about men and aging. We have two ages: the age we really are, and the age we are in our heads. Most men are almost always about 31 or 32 in their heads — just ask them. Even Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” is 31 in his head. One of the most universal adult male experiences is of standing before a mirror and saying, “I’m sorry, but there’s been a horrible mistake. You see, that’s not really me in the mirror there. The real me is tanned, throws Frisbees, and kayaks the Columbia River estuary without cracking a sweat.”
I find it useful to remember that when writers (myself included) make “universal” statements about the experiences of others, they are really talking about themselves. The appeal to universality is a fig leaf that protects the writer’s tender ego. Anyway, I see that in myself and I suppose it might be true for other writers as well.
In myself I’ve come to notice that aging comes in spurts. I’ve asked others, and they pretty much agree. I’ll look the exact same way for a decade, and then — wham! — God hits the progeria switch and for two years the downhill plunge begins anew.
And then it stops again.
He would be more accurate if he had written “In myself I’ve come to notice that my awareness of my own aging comes in spurts.
My body will plateau for another decade, until the next time it decides to collapse a bit more. Which is funny, because in a weird plot twist, I’m probably in better shape now than I was at 20. Many reasons: I quit smoking in 1988 (though I could start again right now), I stopped eating crap two years ago, and last year, I finally found a gym that doesn’t allow music: no John Cougar Mellencamp blasting at maximum volume while circus freaks in harem pants and the thong equivalent of a T-shirt make those embarrassing orgasm noises while bench-pressing the mathematical squares of their IQs. Instead, I can think and enjoy my time working out without a massive sonic brain invasion. It makes all the difference. And what do I think about in the gym? Muscle tissue breaking. And then I try to decide whether to rebuild or pack it in. My ligaments are iffy about whether they should snap or strengthen. My body tries to decide whether to age or become more powerful. And as a control freak, it bugs me so much that a lot of this stuff is beyond my control. Exercise, sure, but at the end of it, instead of looking thinner, I may merely look gaunt. Or haggard. Or — ironically — my age.
Strangely, for a writer so obviously concerned with avoiding the stereotypical markers of age, the paragraph is the linguistic equivalent of “And those damn kids better stay off my lawn!!!!!!!”
Lately, I’ve begun to have this heretical thought that people were never supposed to live to be old enough to age in the first place. We forget that until the 1950s or 1960s, senior citizens were extraordinarily rare, and the seniors one did see were begoitered, often-limbless, shrunken-apple-head people who wheezed and cackled.
This is terribly bigoted, mean spirited and false. Imagine commenting on the relative “invisibility” (within the dominant culture) of African Americans being rendered in similarly charged language. Nasty.
A hundred years ago, if you hit 70, you deserved every shred of respect you got. These days… well, does one deserve respect for wanting to look 55 at 70? Does wanting to appear younger in any form deserve any respect at all? In the 1990s, I helped design a plausible future for the film “Minority Report.” One of the things I came up with was “young old people.” Tom Cruise’s character in the movie was actually 70 years old, even though he looked 35. Now that I think of it, maybe Tom Cruise really is 70. If that turned out to be the truth, would you be surprised? Be honest.
How about this?