While I am generally disinclined to disclose my birthday — regular readers will know the date, and it's all over my Facebook stuff — I have had no qualms about revealing the number of birthdays I have so far endured. (If you're just joining us, it's sixty-one.) However, since coworkers don't read me on Facebook — I have a strict policy against FB friendships with people with whom I have to work — and most of them don't ever bother with this site, they presumably don't have the slightest idea how old I am, though I would have thought that the thinning grey hair and the occasionally halting gait would give away the game, or at least provide some sort of ballpark figure.

Which brings us to a few months ago. Guy from another division, just into his forties, who incidentally lives with someone who used to work here, is fond, as I am, of going on long rants about how horrible things are, and whose fault that might be. (Hint: Not Ours.) I forget what it was I was saying, but simply the saying of it created a bit of puzzlement in his mind: how could he possibly know that? Unless he was ... "How old are you really?"

I told him. His eyebrows rose to just below hairline level. "I never would have thought you were that old."

"I never was before," I said.

"No, I mean you don't look like you're that old."

"Yeah, but you're on the outside. Everything I can see looks like abandoned World War I surplus."

This vision was apparently sufficiently offputting to force a change of subject, and I left it at that. Weird things do happen, after all, and it's pointless to dwell on them, though I did wonder briefly if his ladylove, she of the spellbinding curvature, the seemingly permanent tan, and the known ability to look younger than she is, had thrown a number out at him which he just naturally accepted at face value.

And speaking of face value, a week or so ago a woman from that same division, spot on forty, threw exactly the same question at me: "How old are you really?" Upon receiving the appropriate number, she said "You don't look it. I'd have guessed maybe early fifties."

Now the sensible thing to do here is to assume that fortysomethings have no idea what age looks like, except for their parents, and they don't count. Because I'm pretty sure I look every one of my 61 years.

But what do I know? Historically, I've been the worst judge of my own [damn near anything, actually], and I look at this face every day without noticing anything in particular.

I threw this out to the Facebook crowd, suggesting that I was "insufficiently jowly or something." A younger (though not that much younger) cousin suggested that it was "good genes," something she exhibits rather well herself. And indeed, last time I was in Austin, the old homestead for my mother's side of the family, I was able to witness for myself that several of the cousins, mostly fiftyish, were still quite fetching, and many members of the subsequent generation had turned out well. (I have always considered myself the least attractive member of the clan, a declaration which is arguable at best.)

I went and looked at my Twitter profile, which features a picture of yours truly from the year 2001, taken on the Jersey Shore. Apart from the occasional bits of actual black in my hair back then, it's almost indistinguishable from what I look like today; in fact, I think I looked jowlier back then. I am somewhat smaller these days: at last weigh-in, I was 84 lb below Peak Bulk, and maybe that helps — or maybe it doesn't.

Then again, I have been cutting myself a bit more slack these days in one area: on the traditional Hot Or Not-type scale, I'd always estimated myself to be a 2, maybe a 2.5, but more recently I have been admitting to 3. This does not mean that I'm really a 4 trying to appear modest; then again, that whole Worst Judge bit is in play.

The Vent

  1 January 2015

 | Vent menu | E-mail to Chaz

 Copyright © 2015 by Charles G. Hill