Notes From an Old Man: Old

Old. A word innocuous enough, and certainly useful at times. We’ve all heard it and used it and read it without any particular feeling. But recently the word became attached to me and…whoa boy…I have feelings.

It started last year when I found myself suddenly unemployed. Being one to pick myself up and dust myself off and get back on the horse that threw me, I mentioned to a retired friend that I was looking for a new job. “Aren’t you too old to get a new job?” she asked.

“No,” I answered, probably somewhat cockily. After all I was a catch. I have decades of experience and there is practically nothing in the arena of corporate communications that I hadn’t done, or experienced. I’m an award-winning fiction writer, for God’s sake!

Then of course, my friend turned out to be the frickin’ Oracle at Delphi. I climbed off my high horse, decided to focus on my writing and got a job that would allow me to do just that. Pretty quickly the young people there attached “Mr.” to my name, and more bafflingly referred to me as “OG.” I had to look that up: it means Old Gangster; according to Urban Dictionary “OG is an acronym for original gangster. Means you have a classic style or stay with the older ways instead of newer.”

When I mentioned that to another friend, she said, “Oh I would have thought OG stood for ‘old goat’.” You get the feeling I need better friends?

I’ve had a swollen index finger for months. My doctor ordered bloodwork which showed no signs of inflammation; an x-ray showed no break or fracture. Finally, she sent me to Orthopedics for an exam. The hand specialist examined my finger and reviewed the x-rays. “This is the first sign of arthritis,” she said. Seeing my crestfallen expression, she added, “Don’t worry your joints look good—” The smile I began to deliver was stillborn as she continued, “—for your age.”

I was immediately reminded of my last eye exam which my doctor had wanted because she noticed early signs of cataracts during my annual physical. When I informed my eye doctor of her concern he said breezily, “Well of course you have signs of cataracts. It’s to be expected at your age.”

I feel I should explain my shock at the appellation old. I don’t necessarily feel old. I think part of it can be traced to the fact that I was always a late bloomer—it seems ‘old’ should bloom later as well. I kissed a boy for the first time when I was fourteen. I kissed my second boy at 21. I was nearly 40 when I got married and bought a house. My brother had his first kid at 57, his second at 60. One day at the park with our nephews some eight-year-old wretch asked cheerily, “So, are you their grandfather?”

I remember a commercial from when I was a child. It might have been for Geritol. It stared an unbearably chipper old lady who kept chirping, “You’re as young as you feel. You’re as young as you feel.

That’s my new mantra. I feel young. I’m as young as I feel…

BTW, if you go out this afternoon—perhaps to the grocery store to take advantage of that senior discount—take an umbrella. It’s going to rain. I know because my finger hurts.


  1. That was so fun. And yes I did see myself you OG you.

    1. Thanks. I had fun writing it. BTW do I know you Anonymous?

  2. Oh, I know! And as a woman, you just…disappear from notice one day. Polly.

    1. I've heard that from other women. I can tell you, it's true for gay men too. We become shrouded in this...lavender mist...Ah, Polly!

  3. I have a cousin who...lovingly?...calls me OG. To him it stands for 'Old Gay.' Kenneth

  4. I find it fascinating how perceptions of aging differ between Western culture and other parts of the world, like Vietnam. While Western societies often stigmatize aging, in places like Vietnam, it's celebrated and respected. My friend Minh, a monk from Vietnam, once asked me if it's true that Americans are reluctant to share their age. This sparked a discussion about cultural differences. In Vietnam, elders are revered for their wisdom and experience, emphasizing the importance of family and intergenerational connections.

    But none of what I shared stops my joints from hurting a little more each year!


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