IT HAPPENED WHEN YOU WEREN’T LOOKING. You woke up one day, fully grown, probably in your 30s and with kids, and something about Old English aftershave or toolboxes excited you to your core, and making time to putter around the woodshed, backyard, or basement just made sense. Your metabolism slowed down, and you started seeing the world through slower, more wizened eyes. What happened?
You got old.
You may actually be young, but chances are, you’re already an old man.
You may have an “old soul” but that doesn’t give us the right to call you grandpa, grandpa. What gives us the right is probably your suspenders, or old-as-hell work boots you still think of as “new” when you got them fifteen years ago. Or the fact that you think and act like an old man.
Here’s the list:
1. If you’re not excited about about the hardware store, give it time. Soon you will hear the pulse of Ace or True Value, or even better – a real, hometown hardware store with store credit – calling your name. “Stop by, old man, and buy something,” it whispers. “Buy everything here, there’s room in the basement for it, and your wife will understand,” it says gently, while ushering you to buy more hammers or shovels or a new knife. “Start a new project, you can probably teach yourself from a book,” it corrals you.
2. Are you wearing khakis? You’re wearing khakis right now, aren’t you, old man? Yes, you are. You will always wear khakis when you’re old. Jeans have lost their youthful touch. Khakis – embrace them, with their crease and endless endurance against all seasons. Hike them up, and belt them secure enough for a day raking leaves or reading a book quietly. And like jeans, they go with everything, especially work boots — your old, dependable work boots. And a plaid shirt. And a Carhartt jacket. You’ll be wearing this uniform until you’re dead.
3. It’s 4:30 a.m. and you’re awake. You’re just awake. Why isn’t everyone else awake? No, no – you need some alone time – all old men do. And you don’t have to be at work for a few hours. Maybe the hardware store is open.
4. Smell that? That’s the aroma of a twenty-minute bowel movement, coffee, and a burnt match. You made that happen, old man.
5. What time does the diner open? Oh, it’s open 24 hours? Well who goes to a diner at night? Ok, let’s go to the diner, it’s almost 6 a.m. Hey, let’s do this more often (…and this is how the phenomenon of old men at diners early in the morning starts). There are even young waitresses there who put up with your jokes. You’re theirs for life now, old man.
6. If you haven’t gone deaf yet, you’re starting to, old man. Friends and family will understand. Just say you’re sorry, or ignore them. Your ears have had a good run.
7. Tightening toilet seats gives you a sense of accomplishment not met with in the first half of your life. But now – call the papers! You’ve saved the house from the wiggly wobble of someone’s ass slipping off the seat! You’ve done it, old man! No one else but you could have figured out how to righty-tighty the bolts while your hand was upside down and your forearm was on the part of the seat where everyone puts the most posterior flesh of their butt cheeks. But you did it.
8. Your haircut is either short or buzzed. That’s just the way haircuts should be. Long hair is for college students and single men in their 20s. Beards are also acceptable, but somehow you don’t mind shaving your face every day of your life, because every day is precious now that you’re old.
9. No matter how old you are you are still and always horny as hell. This won’t change or let up until you’re dead, so there’s always that. Sorry, old man. Life is full of suffering.
10. The mention of Scotch or Whiskey – or Bourbon Whisky or even Gin – especially the expensive stuff – gets you a little excited. If there are adjectives or descriptions of said liquor, the more excited you get. Rye-whiskey, single-malt…mention of these things makes you glad you’re still alive at your old age. And watching Mad Men excites you to no end as well, just for the reason that they’re drinking the whole time. Men wearing suits drinking all the damn time means something to you for some reason.
11. No matter what the current hairstyle is, it looks stupid. It just looks stupid. The same goes for any new fashion that has arisen since you last bought fashionable clothes years ago, or whenever clothes just started showing up in your closet (…it’s because your relatives just started buying you what your old man uniform dictates, and you didn’t know it, but you started going along with it. You got old).
12. No bands or movies or books are as good as the ones from twenty years ago, or whenever it was you grew up, old man. You’re hearing your favorite band on the classic station, and you’re kind of deaf to – well, downright pridefully ignorant – new hits. And your favorite artists have become old men, too, only they’re somehow thinner and better looking than you.
13. You feel a kinship with anyone your age unlike any other time in your life. Life has taught you many a great thing, old man, and you’re ready for someone to listen to your advice. You’ve lived, damn it, and you’re ready to give someone a piece of your mind, as soon as you download a PDF for installing your own ceilings or building a set of stairs.
14. We know you really want to talk about your new truck or Buick or sensible automobile purchase, so go ahead, old man. You only live to old age once. We know you got a deal, and we’re proud of you. Nobody gets good deals like you.
15. For your birthday we always know what to get you. It’s whiskey and plaid shirts, right? And a gift card to Home Depot?
16. You’re a bit of a hoarder, but it’s all in good taste and measure because you only keep what you need, or has value somewhat. You never know when you’ll need three mismatched sets of wrenches or old boots or bungee cords or gloves. Or old khakis. Or shovels. You can never have enough shovels. The hardware store probably has shovels. You’re on your way to buy a new shovel now, aren’t you old man?
We thought so.