Occasionally, a mirror will sneak up on me, and before I can avert my gaze, I catch a glimpse of myself. And that old man staring back out of the mirror startles me every time. Every single time.
Granted, I’ve lived for quite a while, and have some miles on me, but I don’t feel old. And staying away from mirrors as much as possible helps me steer clear from being forced to acknowledge my advanced age.
And then the other night, I was watching a YouTube video of Joanna Lumley being interviewed on a British television show, because, well, I love Joanna Lumley. She starred in one of my all-time favorite television shows, “Absolutely Fabulous,” or “AbFab,” as it’s known to true believers. She played Patsy Stone, the jaded fashion editor who has never met a drug or a drink she didn’t like.
I’ve never seen Lumley in anything else, so I kind of thought she’d be a lot like Patsy. I realize there’s a thing called acting, but both Patsy and Lumley are former models from the swinging ’60s, both are ex-Bond girls — or maybe Patsy only pretends to be, I can’t remember — so, it’s not that far of a stretch to think the character might have been based on her. Not at all, it seems.
And Ms. Lumley, who I would guess to be 70-ish, said the most insightful thing.
“I am older than I once was, and I’m not as old as I will be, and I am going to die someday.” Which so far is a pretty straightforward recitation of facts, but then, she pointed at her head and said, “In here, I’m 32.” She went on to say that her body betrays her more and more, but up in the noggin, she’s still 32. Why 32, you might ask. She had an answer for that. “Because that’s about how old you are when you stop being as crazy as a fox.”
Not only do I agree with every word she said, it was very validating to find out someone else feels the same way as I do. Then a friend who heard this story said she had a friend who lived into her 90s and often said she had a 40-year-old mind trapped in a 90-year-old body. So, that’s three of us that I know of.
I have to tell you it was a relief to know that what I considered to be a mental disconnect unique to myself was, in fact, just a result of aging. I seem to remember my dad or grandpa saying something along these lines years ago, but it was back when I was too young to grasp the concept.
Our minds just don’t age as fast as our bodies. Until, of course, they do. Which is another sad topic for another day.
So I’ve thought a bit about exactly how old I am in my mind. Lumley is 32, my friend’s 90-something friend was 40, and I know a few people who have settled happily on 27 as their permanent age.
I think I’ll go with 32. That was about the age I started having friends younger than myself. Up until that point, I’d been ‘the kid’ in every group, and suddenly I wasn’t anymore. It was an interesting point in life, feeling like a real grown-up, and not yet having to stare down the barrel of mortality.
So I learned three things from one YouTube video. Who says social media can’t be educational? Joanna Lumley is not the same person as Patsy Stone, and though Patsy is way cooler, Joanna is a lot smarter. That’s one.
The second thing is, I’m not alone in having a disconnect between the age I am and the age I think I am.
And lastly and most importantly, every single facacta mirror lies. It tells a lie every time I look in it. Because I know, and now you know, I’m 32.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.