Apparently, I am now considered vintage. Let me explain.
In something like a twisted episode of an old Twilight Zone I left on a week-long road trip as a what I considered a middle-aged guy and somehow and, inexplicably, returned old man. The for one week, the universe seemed to have it in for me – kicking at and shaking my ego onto its knees.
Strike one came early. While stopping at roadside gas I walked in to grab a bottle of water. Walking up to the counter, a young girl, roughly the age of my own daughter, looked up.
“Wow, I like your hair,” the young girl said. “Not too often when you see an older gentleman wearing taking an interest in his hair and wearing it with style.”
For a moment – ever so briefly – I wondered who the young girl might be speaking to. And then, like the revealing payoff moment in each episode, the iconic theme music dancing a terrorizing jig between my ears. The older man was me.
We all like to think we are perpetually young or at least immune to the march of time. Old is always for someone else. We even manufacture life preserver-type phrases hoping to distract us from the face changing the mirror. This list of greatest hits includes “you’re only as old as we act” or “age is only a number” and other well-meaning but hollow phrases.
None of these turn of words rescued three days later. Riding a small bus, a young lady stepped aboard. With seats filling up I instinctively heard my mother’s voice. Rising up I offered my seat to the late boarding passenger.
“Oh no,” she said. “I’m young. Thanks to all the same.”
Strike two hit me with the force of a Nolan Ryan fastball to the ribcage – even taking away my breath and another piece of my already bruised ego.
Sitting down, I wondered what I did to piss off the universe.
Strike three came later that night when a young man walked up, did a double-take, and stopped.
“Dude, awesome vintage watch,” he said. “What’s the story here?”
Again, I found myself momentarily confused – what vintage watch I wondered.
Looking down I saw my favorite watch, one accompanying me from mountain hikes to diving into teal blue waters. A traveling partner of tens of thousands of road miles and a survivor of being whacked into walls and submerged into cold mountain streams, the watch is practically a part of my being.
Then I did the math. My watch began traveling with me before the young man could grow a beard.
Leaning in, the young man admired my timepiece with reverence – as if seeing a rare fossil from a time long passed, from a time when watches told time and phones only made calls. To him, my watch served as a cool reminder of authenticity.
I cried, uncle. If age plus authentic equals vintage, then count me in. Just don’t call me old.