I have noticed a burgeoning fascination with youth that turns my stomach.
Look at the fuss made over that mewling whelp spawned in London this week. Now that the cossetted little prince is five days old, the running dogs of the media will have lost interest and sloped off to sniff out a story involving someone younger. Maybe a two-day-old Puerto Rican suckling who can speak seven languages and play La Borinqueña on the bars of its crib.
If I sound bitter, it’s because I am.
I went to buy supper from the Spar in Ballito on Wednesday, which is depressing enough on its own, but when I proceeded to the checkout point, the wage slave rang up my half loaf of white bread and bottle of meths and said, “Pensioner?”
My mouth fell open. I looked at her in disbelief. “Pensioner?” I said. Had I misheard? She looked at me blankly. “Pensioner!?” I repeated three or four times, getting progressively louder and shriller.
I turned to the people in the queue, expecting them to join me in staring at the teller as if she were a sight-impaired person recently escaped from an institution for the criminally insane. Instead, they gave me weak, indulgent smiles and looked away. Their faces suggested they were thinking, “Shame, he’s obviously hard of hearing.” What? WHAT? How could they not detect the incredulity in my voice? How could they miss the twinkle in my eye and the spring in my step?
Okay, I was limping at the time. I suppose it could have been misconstrued as gout. I prefer to think of it as an old surfing injury. And my eyeballs have been ravaged by too many years of sun, surf, tears and beers. Also, it has been the kind of year that turns one’s hair dusky blond before its time. It probably didn’t help that I have a couple of teeth missing, thanks to a dentist who reached for the pliers at the crack of a tooth. I suspect he was hoping to score from all the implants I would no doubt be wanting. Tough luck, buddy. I’d rather look like a car guard than pay for your next trip to Thailand. That’ll teach him.
I have an idea what happened here. You know how white people think all black people look the same? Well, it’s obvious that darkies can’t tell how old whiteys are. It must be a rural thing. The bigger the tree, the older it is. Stands to reason, right? And since I am 1.93m tall, it’s no wonder she thought I was one of the ancients.
To calm my shattered nerves, I went around the corner to The Galley Beach Bar and Grill. I got a couple of stiff shots down me when this black dude came up off the beach. I was sitting at the table nearest the stairs. He was carrying a bunch of sticks and I braced myself for a fight. Instead of attacking me, he tried to sell me one. Normally, I would have waved him off. But he said something that turned my day around.
Holding up one of his carved sticks, he said, “They are not only for old people.” This was clearly a man who knew what he was talking about.
“This one is good for walking,” he said, holding up a stick identical to all the others. “You don’t need it.” Damn straight I don’t. He held up another that was good for leaving in your car in case of road rage. Then there was the Zulu fighting stick. I didn’t even haggle. If one were going to live in KZN, one would be an idiot not to own a stick specially designed to fend off the impis. It was made from tamboti and had a big knob on one end. I felt so virile limping out of the bar swinging my big-knobbed Zulu fighting stick that I wanted to go back to the Spar where the ageist teller would beg me to take her as one of my wives.
By the time I reached the car, I was out of breath and leaning heavily on my stick. On the way home I bought a magazine called Longevity in the hope of discovering some sort of Benjamin Button-type elixir to reverse the ageing process.
Worryingly, the giveaway sealed inside the plastic was a canister of ten vitamin A tablets and a paperback called The Camden Cowboy. I couldn’t work out if there was a connection between the two.
I flipped through it. “Once their peaks had been reached, leaving them both sated and satiated and their reunion finally and firmly sealed, Seth collapsed with his back to the …” I closed the book, desperately hoping it was a story about mountaineering and that Seth was exhausted after summiting the Matterhorn.
Being a late starter, I think it is only fair that I live to at least 140. I was relying on the magazine to help me get there. Right away, I wolfed the vitamin A and began searching for the secret to immortality.
I hoped they wouldn’t tell me to stay out of the sun. We live in Africa. What should we do? Go and live with the Mole People? I’ve tried that. It was a disaster. I can’t stand being jostled and pawed.
And I’m not interested in cosmetic surgery as a means of looking younger. On the other hand, my butt is my best feature. It’s extremely well preserved after sitting on it for so many years. I could get a transplant, I suppose. It wouldn’t be the first time I have been called assface.
I came across a remedy for hangovers. This was a good start. Hangovers take weeks off my life. Biologically, I am nine-years-old. By 2018, I expect I’ll be a foetus. Their advice? Exercise. Oh, come on. Those familiar with hangovers will know that anything more strenuous than slurching between the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom can kill you. Oh, wait. They’re not giving advice on how to feel better. They’re just saying that exercise can help repair brain damage caused by too much alcohol. What is too much alcohol? What is brain damage? What is what? I rest my case.
I spotted an advert for an incontinence product featuring three youngish women. They are having tea and scones and laughing and, presumably, weeing gently in their broeks. I’m not judging. It happened to me once, but it had nothing to do with tea. And I wasn’t even conscious at the time.
Memory loss and brain shrinkage can, apparently, be stopped with a daily cocktail of vitamin B and folic acid. I tried asking the barman at the Bush Tavern in Umdloti for a Long Island Iced Tea with a shot of B6 and B12 but he gave me the lazy eye and went off to phone for backup.
As for memory loss, I watched my mother die of lung cancer last year. I’m looking for something that can speed it up.
Something else I learnt. If you want to know whether you should be taking multivitamins, you need to check your homocysteine levels. That’s fine for some, but what about those of us who can’t even check their oil levels because they don’t know how to open the bonnet of their car?
There was a section on serums, but the only serum I’ve heard of is a truth serum. We need to get our hands on a million litres of the stuff, dump it in the Union Buildings’ water supply and rig the offices with hidden microphones.
I was told that five grams of salt is the recommended daily allowance for an adult. I don’t know what that looks like. Is it the same as five grams of cocaine? Seems a bit excessive. Unless, of course, you have friends around from the Bluff, in which case it’s probably not enough.
The back section of the magazine is taken up with depressing stuff about working out. How to do deadlifts, lunges and something called burpees. As a beer aficionado, I do plenty of burpees but they don’t make me feel any younger.
If you’re angry, their advice is to take up boxercise. They just make up words, these people. Here’s my advice. If you’re angry, become a police reservist and shoot a hijacker in the face. You might not live longer, but, more importantly, neither will he.
I was left with the distinct impression that the magazine was heavily slanted towards women. Why? They already outlive men. How much longer do they want to live? What are they planning? I’ve changed my mind about longevity. I don’t want to be around when they make their move.
Unless, of course, they already have.