In a variation from the norm (I realize that’s a rather redundant thing for me to say on this blog), I wanted to share a conversation I’ve been having with Jennifer over at “Little Monster Girl”. She does a thing called “LMG’s Friendly Chat” wherein she interacts with her followers, and this week’s theme was inspired by Cee’s “Share Your World Q & A”. (Excuse the excessive links; I’m just trying to be a righteous blogger and credit everyone.) Jennifer tossed some questions my way, and I lobbed back. Here we go.
1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
To be fair, people have always been confused about my actual age, so I’m used to this limbo status. When I was very young, I was a creepy little child that devoured everything I could possibly read. I knew far more than a wee bairn my age should know. However, instead of instilling pride in my family, my scholarship made them quite leery and concerned. They couldn’t tell me the lies that you typically tell the youth of the world, and therefore the parenting paradigm was thrown out of whack. A few family members would politely say that I had “an old soul”, but most of them were convinced that I was Damien from “The Omen”, albeit without the murders and the sacrilegious cavorting.
Right around the age of 16, I suddenly morphed from awkward geek to someone who looked ten years older. This had its upside, in that I could waltz into bars without fear of being carded and buy beer for all my little friends who were only my friends because I could buy beer. The downside is that acquaintances and employers and policemen thought I was much older, and therefore expected me to behave with some degree of maturity. This meant I could not get away with all the fun and irresponsible things that everyone else my age was doing.
Topping it all is the fact that I have had a deep, gravelly since roughly the age of six months. For the first several decades of my life, if someone only knew me from my phone voice, they would surmise that I was a 57-year-old who smoked Cuban cigars non-stop and/or the original inspiration for Darth Vader. To sum up, I’ve rarely been perceived as my actual age, so specific chronological markers have never been “real” to me except when it comes to insurance premiums and gaining enough points so that I can retire.
But to actually answer the question, I would go with always being “42”. It’s a great age. Old enough to stop caring what others think and young enough to waltz into a bar without fear of being disregarded. And I think Douglas Adams would approve.
2. So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?
Full confession: I’m one of those people who rarely ever bothers with an umbrella. Granted, there are times when one should probably use such a device. (I recall a certain night in Paris, when we all got gussied up and went to a fancy restaurant. It was raining like hell, and some validation-seeking part of me wanted to give the impression of being sophisticated instead of exuding an aura of some rube from Oklahoma, so an umbrella is personally acceptable in that situation.) But most of the time, I couldn’t care less. I don’t mind getting wet, and, if you’ll excuse the possibly ribald connotation of such a phrase, once you’re wet, you’re wet. You might as well embrace the wetness and make the best of whatever happens after that.
Final Answer: I have no idea where my umbrellas are or how many I might own. It’s possible that there might be one under the seat of my car, but I haven’t bothered to poke around under there since 1982.
3. Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?
I think there’s a critical word missing in this question (I checked the source site and it’s missing there also), so I’m a little hesitant to answer. But I’ll go with this: One of my favorite things is to sit on a patio with good friends and talk about everything and nothing. (Adult beverages are part of the mix, naturally.) The patio can be at a restaurant, that’s all well and good and people bring you snacky things, for a fee. But I prefer my own patio, or someone’s own patio, because the discussion gets deeper. (You don’t have to worry about offending nearby children who may or may not be Damien from “The Omen”.)
Still, my best recharge is alone time. I am quite content in not speaking to another soul for days or weeks on end. I spent a long time learning to appreciate myself for what I am, battling so many people who quickly condemned me for the gayness or the nerdiness or my expectation that people should be kind to one another. The ignorance of fools is a sharp knife. But I’m happy with myself, now. I’m okay with what I see in the mirror, although if some of those wrinkles wanted to go away that would be fine by me. I could easily be the guy who lives in the hut at the far end of the island and only goes into town once a month. (As long as the hut has an internet connection.)
4. Name three things you and your spouse, partner or best friend have in common.
We both have learned that some people are simply not worth the drama.
We instinctively know when the other one will like a particular movie, TV show, song or dusty painting buried in a far corner of an antique store that has seen better days.
We’re still standing, even after all this time.
5. Optional Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Easy answer, and it applies to both weeks: The possibility that I have somehow learned to wrangle words in a certain manner that might appeal to someone on the other side of this planet. I spent so many nights as an “old soul” adolescent and young man and older man, gravel-voiced but unheard, seeking comfort in the dusty, printed words of distant writers who gazed at me from wrinkled author photos on books borrowed from the sacred local library. The words kept me sane, hopeful. To be on the fringes of actually participating in this exchange, perhaps saying the right thing at the right time for someone who needs to hear it, is a bliss unmeasurable. Even if I want to live in a hut at the far end of the island, I’ll make sure the patio is solid and welcoming…
Story behind the photo: A bridge in Malaga, Spain. Lots of cities around the world have bridges where people leave locks, so this is nothing new, but it still speaks to the complications we all face when making our own navigation…