My memory isn't what it used to be. But I can remember the exact moment I became 'old'. It was a Thursday night, late last year, at a charity event in the city. As I approach the entrance, I was stopped by security and told to remove my tie.
I resisted the urge to say, "but it's Gucci," removed the offending item, and made my way to the pop-up bar inside. Scanning the room, I quickly realised the terrible, horrible, no good truth... I was a 40-year old man in a suit (no tie), surrounded by people who hadn't been born when Kurt Cobain departed this world.
While the folks inside were tattooing their necks, and launching motorbikes off buildings, I was just old. Ancient. Dust and bones in the searing desert sands. A fossilised relic. I clutched my drink tighter as the self-awareness rolled over me.
When did this happen?
Age is a relative thing. And it catches up with everyone on its own terms. You can be 20-something in the suburbs with children, a mortgage, and one foot in the grave. And then there's that guy they always photograph for Paris Fashion Week who's probably in his 60s and can still pull together an outfit.
To quote Aaliyah (and betray my vintage), "Age ain't nothing but a number." And if you're blessed with the right combination of cheekbones and vanity you can hold back the years with grim determination.
But despite your best efforts, there will be a day of reckoning. A tipping point when you finally have to accept the fact you're no longer as young and on-brand as you believe.
The early signs of aging
Let me tell you about Friday nights. We used to go out to three different art launches, drink the complimentary booze, ignore the artwork, and capture an assortment of petty crimes on our first generation iPhones.
These days my wife and I might duck into our favourite French bistro for a couple of glasses of champagne, some oysters and a pizza before going home to see the dog and watching something on Netflix in our inner city apartment.
Cheap alcohol and warehouse parties no longer hold the appeal they once did. Whether this is a sign of old age or 'maturing interest' is open to debate, but if you're looking out for warning signs that you're over the hill, I have bad news for you.
Everyone loves a list
Are you old? Almost certainly yes. And if you need confirmation here's a list you can cross-reference:
- You're teenage idols start dying around you. Luke Perry was a shock. Keith from Prodigy not so much. But the fact that both were about 50 years old also puts a timestamp on their fan base, and it's not flattering.
- Alternatively, your teenage idols start releasing kids albums. Regurgitator's new foray into Wiggles territory makes perfect sense given their fan-base is now comprised of suburban parents with screaming toddlers.
- The sad realisation that you can't just eat whatever and maintain your abs of steel. I believe the term you're looking for is 'dad bod'.
- The soundtrack to your youth starts appearing in car ads for seven-person family SUVs. Is nothing sacred?
- Random physical injuries. My left knee has been sore for a week now. I think I pulled a ligament while on a treadmill at the gym. Is that a thing? Maybe I should go see a doctor?
- Rolling your eyes at terms like 'woke' and 'micro-aggressions'. A Gen X child knows the best form of political activism is disengagement and apathy.
- Realising you might actually see retirement, and should probably sort out your finances.
- Not understanding new social media platforms. Periscope? Wix? "Am I out of touch? No, it's the children who are wrong..."
- You click on articles like this to check if you're old and the above bullet-points ring painfully true.
Deal with it
Suddenly finding yourself the adult in the room can be strange and confusing. Which is why it's important to have a role model that can help you navigate this new life stage. I can't tell you who your role model should be, but Mister Big from Sex and the City is an obvious choice. Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock, or Julia Louis-Dreyfus in VEEP, are also great examples of how an adult should conduct themselves in professional and private situations.
The point is, none of us are getting any younger, and the best way to mature is to accept the fact, and do so on your own terms. Whether that's a bourgeoisie mix of Xanax, champagne, and Netflix on a Friday night, a post-grad degree in art history, or a house in the suburbs is up to you.
In the meantime, I need a nap.