Like life in a Nepalese mountain village

I’m 65.

It happened this morning: Saturday, January 3, 2009.

Oh God. There’s been a terrible mistake.

Yes, yes, I know the maths is correct, but I’m no more an old age pensioner than a bloke with a beard and a turban is necessarily a terrorist!

I don’t want to be called “dear” by shop assistants; I don’t want waitresses to pat my hand; I don’t want people to talk loudly when they speak to me; I don’t want to grow vegetables, make models, join a club for people my own age, or wear underwear that looks like old sheets. I don’t even want to haul a caravan to any of Australia’s beauty spots to compare notes on toilets and seating capacities with my peers.

On the other hand, I do reserve the right to grow increasingly impatient with idiots and to collect the pension. I’m not sure about getting cheap movie tickets or cut-price restaurant meals Ñ I don’t see why I should help anybody turn me into an alien.

If you think I’m being extreme, wait and see … your turn is coming; unless, that is, you’re one of the 12 per cent of Queenslanders who are already older than me.
And yes, yes … I know there are exceptions. No one treats Sean Connery as if he were deaf and incontinent, and he’s 78.

But how does he do that? How does he get to be treated like a real person, while the rest of us are relegated to some kind of sub-human species?

I have a bad feeling that the answer is that we have only ourselves to blame.

I told my kids yesterday that I had lost a record. They told me they didn’t know I’d ever held any records.

The word I was looking for was, of course, CD. I’d lost a CD.

I saw the look that passed between them! I saw them edging towards the door and looking at their watches!

Whole new languages and cultures have grown up while I was busy raising a family and earning a living; and now, without realising it, I’ve become a foreigner as surely as if I’d been beamed into a Nepalese mountain village.

I don’t even know how to buy a meal in a sushi bar!

The most recent popular band I know is The Beatles; favourite songwriter Ñ Bob Dylan!

How did this happen? I never meant to get left behind. Indeed, if I’d realised the bus had left without me I would have done something about it; but now it’s so far down the highway that I’d have to sprint through a couple of decades to catch it up. My heart would probably pack up, at my age …

Still, it’s not all bad news.

I looked up January 3 on the internet. I share my birthday with famous people. True, some of them are dead, and those that aren’t are all younger than me, but if they can do it, so can I.

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings is my favourite, even though he’s one of the dead ones. And among the living are Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash (another band from my generation. I’d … er … forgotten about them); Mel Gibson (a fellow migrant as well as a fellow Capricornian); and Victoria Principal.

I told my kids.

“Who’s she?” they asked.

“She was married to Bobby Ewing, in Dallas.”

“Who’s he? What’s Dallas?”

Carrots. I’ll grow carrots. I like carrots. At least they haven’t changed much while I wasn’t looking.