Growing old and hating it

Sometime during the first half of December, I'll be marking my birthday.

Note that I said "mark," not "celebrate".

When one is nearing 60, one doesn't celebrate; one simply marks.

As I playfully told my students one time when they got curious about my age:  If I got married at 20, I'd have a 37 year old son by now, and if he got married at 20, I'd have a 17 year old grandson, and if the latter turned out to be as bitchy as his mother -- my daughter-in-law -- and got married a year ago, I'd have a one year old great-grandson by now.

But things didn't turn out that way.  I was my departed parents' only child and had all the love, attention, food, clothes, etc. they could give, and lived in a three bedroom house so I had no urgent reason to run away and get married, just as they had no compelling reason to kick me out to get more space and save on household expenses.

I've been in a stage of denial that I'm old for some time now despite the tell-tale signs -- the creaky knee joints (no, the sounds don't come from the shoes, I recently discovered), the liver spots, the rapidly thinning gray hair that had to be camouflaged with dye every so often.

I  prevent myself from telling stories about events in the distant past (e.g., "Noong Martial Law..."), talk about persons who have long died, refuse to name my favorite song or film or actors so as not to betray my generation, and am up-to-date when it comes to what's in and what's out, thanks to my students.

It's bad enough that the physical signs of old age are there; worse when other people try to express in many nasty ways their perceptions about how old I look.

Like tricycle drivers and vendors trying to endear themselves by calling me by that most detestable term "Tatay". Once I restrained myself from shooting back that I couldn't possibly sire children that looked anything like them.

Or that time at Manson drug store when the sales clerk asked me for a senior citizen card(!).

But I'm learning to fight back.

When they ask me for my age, I now say I'm 97.

That usually shuts them up... else they say I look too young for that age.

But, ah, that's one comment I love to hear!

[October 31, 2007]