Monday Musings 237 - Pain in Praise
Praise can be London weather or Mumbai traffic – totally and utterly unpredictable. What appears like sunny and smooth can soon be grey, cloudy and a depressing snarl. Here is sample to illustrate the point. What do you notice in an otherwise effusive praise that goes like this – “you carry yourself very well and you dress up well; at you age I think you are quite fit”?
In what was turning out to be the best confidence booster for someone just turned 40, the script went horribly wrong. Irredeemable damage. This is not what he was prepared for. The whole thing appeared to be working out quite well till the descriptor ‘at your age’ punctured the ego that was just beginning to inflate. Only a 40 year old who has just been reminded by a twenty something from the other gender can really understand the havoc such a statement can unleash. What began as a fairy tale ended up like a horror movie – as if turning 40 was not enough.
Most 40 year olds would tell you that the bloody number does not do justice to what they feel about themselves. The 20's are times when one wants to do stuff and can actually do it although one may be not be able to afford it always. The 30's one can afford it, can do it as well and often end up doing it although sometimes not knowing why. At 40 however one can certainly afford it, think that one can do it but often realize that the Rubicon may have crossed. Ask him to climb 10 flights of stairs for example and feel the heart trying to jump out of its place(valid for most cases) or wear low waist-tight fitting-neon clothes and see others heart actually jumping out its place! A Chinese proverb says it so well – “If only youth knew and age could”.
Then there is the counter attack of language, particularly in the way phrases are structured, like – 'age is just a number or a state of mind' or 'I feel 20 even if am much older' 'I am ageing gracefully' and many other humbug like this. I think it is valiant effort by the not so young to use argument to win over facts, use decibel to drown truth. The mirror might reflect back strands of grey, the body might have wobbly knees, the face might betray shadows and lines and some other sundry clinching evidences might be telling a different tale but the denial is strong and steady. The more intense is the realization of ageing, stronger is its defense. Parlours and gyms make merry – and some very sophisticated con artists run marathons!
So coming back to incident I am still unsure about how should this be allowed to register. Should it feel extremely good or shall it be a rude awakening. One cannot help but smile – I guess this qualifies as black humor - stark but funny. The poor lass who was just being nice and cordial would not even be aware that she let the cat amongst the pigeons (or would the phrase ‘bull in the china shop’ be more apt).
Small mercies, eh?