A month or two back, at a moment in time upon which I’d rather not dwell, life took myself and son into a shop known for, amongst many things, office products and stationery. The objective was earphones for my son (essential), a notebook and fountain pen ink for myself (not essential, I just like stationery). We parted ways.
I’d envisioned a notebook with alphabetical indexing and started looking. Around twenty seconds into the search a young lady offered assistance. Her product knowledge took us a few aisles away to a solitary notebook which didn’t really hit the spot, though an alternative caught my eye. My son returned, his mission complete and ready to go. The assistant still with me and happily chatting. I liked her.
A few minutes were all I needed but now my sons’ departure clock was ticking. As I checked the other book, a word, amongst those being delivered from the outset, ripped my eyes back to her.
Elders. Did she say elders? She liked to help her elders, always brought up to respect her elders, has two teenage kids about my sons’ age she tells to respect their elders? Who was she talking to? I looked, my head doing a Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
As the world muted and shrunk to this moment, I looked carefully at her face and figured her to be in her late thirties; maybe, just maybe early forties. Older than I first thought, but that didn’t help me, only made it worse. I was a bit of a late starter in the father arena but tagged as an elder? My pulse surely was audible. My hair hurt.
Turning to look at my son, confirmation that ‘elders’ had indeed been used was in his face. He must have made a quick assessment because, including himself in the conversation, he called me Dad.
The topic of elders ceased in an awkward, but pretend not, manner and shortly she left to help others. I thanked her and felt a little sympathy for her. Unintentionally she had realised the taste of her foot. I was not his grandfather.
Being considered an elder threw me a little. No, stuff it, a lot. My ego made sure of that as fast as possible. I thought of things to say to her, to show I’m not old, not elder material. Things like………
Didn’t she realise that I suffer from a rare hair condition known as “Jet black to grey in just one day” triggered by kids? I’m not old enough for an age pension, I don’t use a walking stick, I’ve still got a head of hair and most of my teeth (I was asked that once, a fine memory). I don’t have ‘long johns’ sticking out the bottom of my pants. I don’t wear braces to keep up giant pants to cover the long johns. No giant Y-fronts for me either, no sir-eeeeeee. I still manage a few push-ups and plank for a minute or two to keep in shape. Didn’t you quickly help me because I looked okay in an older guy kind of way? (The forever male in me never seems to quit). You thought I might get lost in the store or fall asleep in the office chair section? Don’t you see, I’m not sporting a walking frame or shuffling in slippers or clip clopping in sandals with walk socks to the knees? I can still ride a motor bike and click a new tab! Nooooooooooo.
Does any of this matter? No. Yes.
And so I wondered. Is it true? Is this the end of the line as a male? Can I face the mirror again?
An elder, I said to my son. I’ve been called an elder. Let’s go home.
Word for today; Elder – not yet.
More to come; same blog time, same blog channel.