There are days when age simply shows up and shocks those of us on the outer limits of life expectancy. Yesterday it happened to me at an unexpected moment. I was posting a photo of my friend Karen Chase and me just after we finished eating a couple of fish tacos at Alejandro’s in downtown Roanoke.
There stood Karen looking sleek, fresh and pretty beside an old man I simply didn’t recognize. It was me, I know, because I was there, but it bore no resemblance to how I normally picture myself and how the camera often treats me–with kindness.
The face was gaunt, the body limp and sagging, the shorts simply awful (they were in the trash moments after I put the photo on my computer screen) and the whole demeanor as tired as Robert Mueller’s testimony yesterday.
Maybe it was an aberration: not a good day for old men.
I have always fessed up to my age and never tried to deceive anybody about it. I’m 72, 73 next Wednesday and, truth be told, I’m healthy and in pretty good physical shape. My memory is as good as that of most of my friends in the 30-40 range. I eat right, get a lot of mental and physical exercise and tend to the parts of life that are important. My energy level surprises a lot of people. But there I was yesterday, looking like those other people I see when I attend a class reunion (“Who the hell are all these old people?”).
I won’t lose a lot of sleep about it even though vanity (thanks, Mom) is part of my fabric. The other half of the equation is recognition of the truth. And the truth is that I am old and that ain’t changing in the next few days.