Some old guy asked me how old I was the other day. “Forty-two,” I replied. He stared at me; a look of skepticism crossed his face. Finally he said, “Whom are you kidding? You’re not forty-two, eighty-two is more like it.”
What he didn’t know is I now answer that question by stating my birth year and let the questioner do the math. Most of us old guys don’t know how old we are anyhow; we’re usually off by a year or two, in either direction. It’s hard for people to do the math when supplied a birth year, now that we’ve entered a new century. A math “genius” will say, “Let’s see – born in 42 – that’s 58 years to get to 2,000 – now I have to add 19 – does anyone have a pencil? No? Well, I guess that makes you 67? No, 77, or is it 87?”
It’s hard because you have to subtract from 2,000 and then add the current year in your head! I find the younger crowd has a harder time doing this than people from my generation. We had to add and subtract in our heads in front of the class. It’s a skill that’s never left us. Just like the multiplication tables that we memorized and were quizzed on constantly. Nine times seven? Sixty-three pops right out, no thought required, no smart phone either.
I like this “birth year” answer to queries about my age. We use it when asked about our cars, why not with ourselves? Nobody asks how old your car is; they ask what year it is. If you want to know how old it is, you have to do the math, or more likely, just remark that the car looks pretty good for its age. I like it because now all my younger friends have a higher (age) number than me. My coffee buddies in Owego, for example: Ray (renamed Roy by the group) has the lowest number after me; it’s 44. Then comes Paul, 58. Rick A. and Rick E. are 60 something. So are Tim and Daren. Andy, Mike and Eric have the biggest numbers; Eric leads the pack with an 83. He looks pretty good for 83.
All my coffee pals in Florida have a higher age number than I do too, but the rest of my Florida friends have a lower number. Young Harold’s number is 33; Joan’s is only 38, Ray & John from Chicago are in the 30’s too; George is 41, but John, from Preston, Canada, has the best deal of all, age wise. He was born on Feb. 29 (a leap year). He’s only celebrated 22 birthdays. I was there for his 21st when he had his first legal, adult beverage. The whole Florida crowd was on hand to welcome him aboard, an 84-year-old at his 21st birthday party. He turns 23 this coming February.
Ever since I switched to a birth year response to age questions I’ve had a little more bounce in my step. It’s nice to have a lower age number than all my kids, most of my friends, and no longer to be the “oldest” guy in the room. I should change my pen name to “Young” Coot. It makes perfect sense to me.
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