Wednesday, August 6, 2008

'Gen X' author tells how guys really view age

Douglas Coupland on how men age.

Entertaining read, and judging by the fact that I feel nowhere near my 41 years, more than a little bit true.

'Gen X' author tells how guys really view age

Most see themselves as 31, no matter how old they are
Which one looks his age? Actors James Gandolfini, left, and George Clooney were both born in 1961, the same year as author Douglas Coupland, who writes: "I have this theory about men and aging. We have two ages: the age we really are, and the age we are in our heads."

By Douglas Coupland
updated 5:51 a.m. MT, Mon., Aug. 4, 2008

A few days ago, I had a business lunch with a guy I thought was about 10 years older than I am. I'm 46, and he looked to be 55 and resembled every English teacher you've ever had. At the end of lunch he said, "You know, I was born the same week as you..." and went on to discuss all the same music we listened to in high school. Meanwhile, it was all I could do to compose myself while looking around for a reflective surface — a knife blade, the hologram on my Visa card — to convince myself I didn't look 55 like this guy did. I felt as if I had progeria, that disease in which you age half a century in five years. That's what growing older does to a guy.

We've all bumped into friends who look like hell. Our first thought is always divorce, booze, or one of those other wicked speed bumps on the road of life. What's really happening, of course, is that your friend is in the middle of a progerial plunge. Time passes, and more time passes, and then you see that friend in the checkout line of a Safeway one afternoon, and you realize he's not drinking or having troubles. He's just aging. The kicker: So I must be too. That's when you head to the produce department and check yourself out in the mirrors above the lettuce and celery.

I have this theory about men and aging. We have two ages: the age we really are, and the age we are in our heads. Most men are almost always about 31 or 32 in their heads — just ask them. Even Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” is 31 in his head. One of the most universal adult male experiences is of standing before a mirror and saying, "I'm sorry, but there's been a horrible mistake. You see, that's not really me in the mirror there. The real me is tanned, throws Frisbees, and kayaks the Columbia River estuary without cracking a sweat."

In myself I've come to notice that aging comes in spurts. I've asked others, and they pretty much agree. I'll look the exact same way for a decade, and then — wham! — God hits the progeria switch and for two years the downhill plunge begins anew.

And then it stops again.

Go read the whole article.

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