Growing Up

We all grow up; eventually and inevitably. Maybe, some of us would just look at it as a slow growth and then decline of our physiological aspects. Some of us actually manage to grow emotionally and intellectually. But lets focus on the physical aspects for a moment, because I have a story to tell. Actually, two stories.

I was buying some shoes – not Manolo Blahnik’s but some very sensible sandals with a solid foot-bed to make up for not wearing orthotics in them. The young woman next to me, maybe end-twenties, was in the process of replacing her Danskin’s with the exact replica of the same Danskin’s – beats me what took so long – but there she was, long enough for the following to occur.I was hemming and hawing over the apparent lack of sex appeal from the sandals, but wanted the airiness and ‘show off my pedicure’ features. I asked the young woman if she felt the sandals looked very grandmotherly. My exact words were: “do you think those look too grandmotherly”? She swayed her head side to side and told me that they weren’t too bad.

I then proceeded to try blue with red stitching versus dark brown, size 38 versus size 39 and when I came to an impasse on color I sought her advice again about blue vs. brown and she told me – very smartly – that the blue with red stitching made a statement and that this was the kind of shoe I might not want to make a statement with and that on the long run I might be happier with brown – which, incidentally is more or less what “my” shoe sales person, Harold had just told me, but who listens to a man when it comes to buying shoes? So, I decided to go with brown, done.

As I’m packing up the young woman gets up to leave and comes over to me, puts a quick hand on my shoulder and says: “I have no clue how old you are, but you look fantastic for a grandmother, I hope I age as well as you do”. And she made a quick exit.

I sat there with my mouth wide open and really, really wanted to slap her. I know it was a compliment, but I most certainly don’t think I’m grandmother material. I felt old, very old and for a second I debated NOT taking the sandals. I did, plus two more pairs of shoes with (slightly) more sex appeal.

This reminds me of a story that happened about then years ago and where for the firs time I knew I had aged up into a new age group, as we endurance sports fans like to say. I was in the subway, a B-train and sat next to a young man, mid-teen, who was happily singing along with his ear-buds in place.   The singing was annoying, but the lyrics where offensive: “mother f*cker, this and the other, etc.”…. I listened for a second and then, more on an instinct than on a well thought through reaction, I elbowed him and said: “language!” Would you know it: the young man immediately straightened up and said: “sorry mam”.   Now, as much as I was thrilled at the reaction, I also felt very, very old, and so we sat next to each other in silence for the remainder of the ride and as I was contemplating what just had happened that had nothing to do with the young man stopping his sing-along.

I’m off now, to go riding my bike and I’ll make sure I go as fast and as far as I did maybe 15 years ago. Call 911.