I remember when I was growing up, being asked the same question every year at my birthday. It’s a question we’ve already asked Heather, and in fact it’s one I asked a friend at the weekend:
“How does it feel to be <age>?”
It is, of course, a mostly pointless question, and the answer is almost always going to be “Pretty much the same as <age – 1>”, because it’s not like a switch has been flicked and we’re suddenly a year older – we’re aging all the time, and getting older is a very gradual process, one we barely notice as it passes.
The only time something really changes when you turn a year older is when it allows you to do something else. 15, 16, 17, 18, and to a lesser extent 21 are all ages where the law allows you to do something you couldn’t before. At least not legally.
But once you get beyond that, very little changes, and it’s not long before you find yourself struggling to remember what age you actually are. As a kid, I found this hilarious, that people older than me couldn’t remember their age – not so funny now, when I have to work it out when asked.
Recently though, a number of things have made me very aware of my age:
- Realising the car radio is now tuned to Radio 2 more than any other station
- 25th anniversaries of things I took part in or remember watching. The last week has seen Comic Relief turn 25 in the same week as Super Bowl XLVII – the first one I saw live was XXII
- Taking several days to recover from going to bed at 4am, where once I’d have done that two or three nights in a row without a thought
- Talking to Heather about stuff I remember from when I was her age, then realising that my Dad was a few years younger then than I am now
This should be a longer list, but I can’t actually remember all the things I thought of when I started this post. See? Getting old!
I do remember the worst offender of the lot though, one that traumatised me no end when I realised it.
In 1990, we visited relatives in the USA, the first time I’d ever been out of the UK. It was on that trip that I first came across a TV show called The Simpsons that had yet to air in the UK (it made its Sky One debut in September 1990). At that time, I was 14 going on 15, a reasonable age to be Bart’s older brother (he’s always been 10). Homer, meanwhile, has aged slightly over the show’s 24 seasons. According to Wikipedia, Homer has gone from 36 (early seasons) to 40 (eighteenth season onwards). So depending on the specific episode we’re referring to, I’m either the same age as him, or an age to be his younger brother.
Let me restate that: I’ve gone from being Bart’s older brother to Homer’s younger brother. Frightening.
Since I had this moment of realisation, I’ve struggled to stop thinking about it. Maybe this is the start of a mid-life crisis? In which case I need to go out and by myself a Porsche. An ex-boss of mine did just that, although he got rid of it pretty sharpish after denting the wheel on a pot hole, and having to fork out over £2,000 to replace it. Oucha!
I’m trying to stay strong, though, and get through this without resorting to expensive auto purchases. The fact I don’t have that sort of spare cash lying about definitely helps! But I figure the longer I can delay any sort of mid-life anything, the longer I make the first half of my life. The second half will obviously have to match the first, and thus I’ll live a long and happy life.
That’s how it works, isn’t it?