I’M old. Well, old-ish. I can still run upstairs faster than a rock, but perhaps not as fast as a honeymoon couple.
Certain benefits accrue to age. Intolerance is one of them. And the curious thing is that, as you get older, people face the blast of your intolerance with increasing tolerance.
Take Geoffrey. A neighbour. Not a near neighbour, I am pleased to say, but a neighbour, nevertheless.
We met the other day and I said to him: “Geoffrey, you’re a pillock and I don’t want to waste my time talking to you. Go away.”
And he did.
It was exhilarating. There was a time when I would have smiled at the dull and stupid things he said while my brain invented numerous painful deaths for him (like strapping him down and having half a dozen Geoffreys talk to him while his brain rotted under the strain).
I used to put up with him until my wife would spot me across the room, wearing the fixed smile of terminal boredom, and come to my rescue. Either that or some other sap would walk within range and I’d lasso him with the chameleon tongue of desperation: “Ah Michael, What d’you reckon? Geoffrey says…”
And then I’d make an excuse to go and fix another drink.
Preferably at another party.
So what changed things? I suspect it’s the ageing process. There was a time when I might have said, “Geoffrey, you burk, sod off,” and he would have hit me. Or at least he would have answered back and we would have had a row right there in the middle of the party and later my wife would have told me how she had Never Been So Embarrassed in Her Life.
Geoffrey and his small-minded, unoriginal, cloying ways would have become a part of my life. He’d be beside me while I cleaned my teeth, and possibly at the breakfast table the next morning as my wife moved up a gear to That’s The Last Time I Go Anywhere With You.
It would be like giving yourself warts on purpose.
Of course, when you’re not yet counting the minutes out of your purse one a time like ten cent pieces, wasting a few on the Geoffreys of the world doesn’t hurt a bit. When millionaires buy a newspaper they just toss the coins and they don’t even count the change.
But when the price of a newspaper is a large slice of your income you ask yourself — several times — do I really need this?
In Geoffrey’s case the answer is no, No, NO!
I wish I’d learned this years ago. Think of the time I would have saved! I’d probably have got into a few punch-ups but even that would have been more fun than talking to Geoffrey.
Come to think of it, the punch-up might have been with Geoffrey, and that would have been a lot more fun than talking to him.
Mind you, pulling out your own fingernails with red hot pliers is more fun than talking to Geoffrey.
And the other advantage is that he won’t do it again. Nor will his wife, nor any of his friends. I’ve invented a pyramid-selling system that works!
Of course, there’s always the chance some other tiresome, self-important, intolerant old fart will round on me one day and say, “Colin you’re a tiresome, self-important, intolerant old fart. Go away.” But that’s okay. I probably wouldn’t like him anyway.
And I can always hit him.