A few years ago, I spoke to some Grade 3 kids at their school. That evening, one of them reported back to her parents that I “had wrinkly hands.”
Such input is important, as I’m a true believer that we should see our hands as others see them.
Feedback on aging isn’t always so kind. On the day you go from being not old, to old (and the question of when that actually occurs will be the subject of heated discourse for the rest of time), you turn into a loathsome, disreputable, reprehensible individual who should, really, be done away with.
Much in the same way as if you have coloured skin, are poor, disabled, unemployed, of the wrong religion, or otherwise undesirable.
Calling someone “old” is, nowadays, used as an insult. If someone disagrees with your opinion, and they know your hair is grey, you are dismissed as “old” in the same way you might be called a criminal.
It’s a form of discrimination and intolerance as surely as religious discrimination, racism, homophobia, or any of the other isms and phobias.
As someone who grew up with all the arrogance of youth and all the privileges of being white in a white society, I had no real appreciation for what it was like to experience discrimination. I’m beginning to get the picture.
In recent years, I’ve been subjected to being called “old,” “old man,” “Gramps,” and variations thereof. A few weeks ago, a teenager who didn’t like one of my columns dismissed me as “a bored old man with nothing better to do than harp on the achievements of others.”
She was incorrect on at least one point — I am not bored. Harping is quite an enjoyable way to make a living.
You might be surprised if I told you the names of some of those who have made such comments to me, which are as bigoted and as insulting as if I had slurred any of them about their colour or their religion.
“I think the best solution to solve the OAS problem is to instill mandatory euthanasia for all people reaching 65 years old,” a frequent commenter wrote on our website.
I think that was supposed to be funny, but most times age references are meant purely to be hurtful.
Having been in the public eye for quite awhile now, I’m more used than most to being flamed by those who disagree with me but, look, if you don’t like my opinion, is it possible to argue the point without personal remarks?
I’ll still write what I think of politicians who celebrate mediocrity, ho-hummers who settle for second best, and ship-disturbers who spend all their time tearing down instead of building up, but if you want to call me a cranky, ill-informed S.O.B. I’ll be fine with it.
Just, please, be more creative with your insults than “old.” And don’t even bother whining about how the older generation screwed everything up. Running the world isn’t easy — you’ll find that out when you get here.
Nelson Mandela was 75 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Mahatma Gandhi led India toward independence when he was in his late 70s. Adolf Hitler was a psychopathic meglomaniac well before he hit 30. Kim Jung Un is 28.
Who would you rather have in your corner?