The Bamboozlement of Growing Old


Here’s the story of a towel, youth, and a lawnmower.

How, pray tell, is cutting sausages with a pair of scissors ‘incorrect practice’? We’d run out of knives! What option was there? Bash the meat against the worktop? Get a hacksaw? Burn through it with a lighter? Take a string off my guitar and start rubbing at the edge of the sausage until I broke through? NO! Yet there I was, this week, at the receiving end of a lecture about why it was wrong to cut a sausage with a pair of scissors. It’s not normal, sure, but I’m 24 and this is what we do. In your 30s, fair enough, you’d go and buy more knives. But in your 20s? Where’s the scissors? I argue we’re actually better for this reason. It’s like that time mother crashed the car into that lawnmower…

Sure, car crashes are not inherently funny, but after the incident, I couldn’t stop laughing. We were all fine. I was 14 when I was in that ‘crash’. It was more of a thump than anything serious. It was one of these huge council lawnmowers you see council employees driving on banks of grass or down the roads between banks of grass. No damage and no harm done. And if you’re young, these are the days you remember. That time you crashed in to a lawnmower. That time you tried to jump over a bollard and shattered your wrist (yes, I knew someone this happened to). That time you tried to jump over a canal five yards wide (yup, I knew someone that happened to, too – you can imagine how that ended). Or that time you drove at 20 over the limit on that road so you could catch up to a car full of incredibly gorgeous girls and flirt with them. Ah, I still remember the smile I gave that blonde girl and the horrified look on her face. Erm, I mean, someone else. I never did that. Oh, no. I’m a good boy. Ahem.

The point is, we get less fun the older we get. If an over 30 crashed into that lawnmower, imagine that person’s response. “Oh, for God’s sake! Think of the insurance! Oh, it’s gonna go up! Oh, think of the rates! Oh, my beautiful car! There’s a scratch one-inch long, it’s the end of the world! And I’m gonna be late for my appointments! And I’m too stressed, and everyone hates me! Why today! Why me? I don’t deserve this crap! Where’s the bloody ice cream? Yes, I’ll have that to cheer myself up. Oh, nuts! I don’t have a bloody spoon! Why has my life gone this wrong? Damn you world, damn you to hell!”

That’s an overreaction. If that happened to you when you were 18, you’d have loved it. You’d have laughed and joked. You’d tell your kids about your reckless youth. The car didn’t matter, it’s just metal and wires. The appointments can be rearranged, they’ll understand. Chill out, man. What’s changed between 18-year-old you and 30-year-old you? You haven’t grown up. You’ve went downhill. Hold on to the reckless innocence of youth. Nobody has to grow up, it’s a natural occurrence that develops the older we get. Like ear hair…

There’s doing things correctly and there’s doing things incorrectly. Yes, using scissors is a bit stupid, but I could see logic that an older person wouldn’t see. To use a knife, I would’ve had to clean a dirty one in the dishwasher, and I don’t remember a time before dishwashers, so cleaning things manually, well, forget it. But more importantly, buying new knives is an expensive option when you have the ability to cut in a different, somewhat unusual way. In the same way that when I was young and had that ‘traffic incident’ with that lawnmower, I could see it wasn’t the end of the world and actually, a bit funny. But we lose all that, and I can prove it.

So this happened this week. There was a roundabout. And I was on the bus. It pulled out and a jerk in a very expensive car darted out right in front of the bus. The corner of the car was, I’m not kidding, inches away from the bus. It would’ve been carnage. Now none of this is particularly funny, but I would’ve shaken this off as a youth. I was hit, only a little bit, by a bus when I was younger. Hurt like hell but it didn’t bother me. But this week? ‘Oh, my back, my neck – do I have whiplash? That bloody idiot in that bloody car! People these days, don’t know how to drive do they? People were better drivers when they just invented cars and nobody knew how to drive them! Ah, my knee, I think I hurt it!’ What a wimp. I was fine. But 10 years ago I said little more than ‘Ow!’ and moved on. We get so moany with age, don’t we? And I’m not even that old.

But it just takes a bit of effort to live life like we did when we were young. I got my shoulder checked out by a professional when the bus went in to it. I thought I dislocated it but I was fine. The bus was barely moving, anyway, plus, I was running, so it was more my fault than anything. That’s logical. That logic never leaves us. But shrugging it off, that does leave us. And it shouldn’t. Children, despite being highly irritating, have a wonderfully free and expressive view of life. When does that joy die? I don’t think it ever does.

I accidentally cut my thumb this week. I haven’t had a good week, you’re probably realising. I cut my thumb on a towel. Come on, how many of you laughed? There’s the joy. It’s still there, isn’t it? Something deep inside, a faint flicker in your heart. That’s where your youthful, joyous and carefree youth resides. I was bamboozled! There must have been something rather sharp on the towel, maybe something stuck in it or on it. I wiped the blood away and then it hit me how incredibly funny it all was. I might not be really young anymore, but I’m still young enough to look back on a towel attacking me, with a smile.

In public, I see children and teenagers laughing and loving life, and I see their parents or older relatives, miserable and complaining about the weather. It’s like a horrifying glimpse in to the future. Everyone’s happy, everyone smiles, but there’s something about growing up that takes the shine off life. Yes, there are stresses, commitments, ‘grown up issues’, conflict, pressures and all manner of hell, but it doesn’t matter. When we were young, our youthful exuberance made any difficulties bearable and often better. But when we grow up, we often let those difficulties get the better of us. ‘Life was better when I was young’. Well, you may say that, but if you never forget the flicker of youth in your heart, you’ll still be saying ‘Life was better when I was young’ well in to old age.

Oh, and before I finish, do remember readers, always be wary of lawnmowers and beware of towels that are like Greeks bearing gifts…

American poet, essayist and existentialist philosopher, Criss Jami (b. 1987), once said: “As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”

Peace Out :|:

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the archives page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other two blogs:

To Contrive & Jive
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post

Hark Around the Words
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s