Ladies and gentlemen tonight the topic I will talk about is worse than an audit from the tax man, scarier then a slow painful death and more mind-numbing then realizing that your smartphone battery is about to die at the start of a 40 minutes MRT ride. What is this ghastly topic I speak of? (Pause). Getting old; the aging process.
Who does not fear their baby soft and smooth skin changing gradually to the texture of a worn out fake leather handbag? Who does not fear their once-coconut shaped posterior taking on the resemblance of a day old pancake?
Who here does not find getting old scary?
When I was in my younger I did not fear getting older;
In my mid-teens I wanted to look 18 in order to convince the doormen of the most popular alcohol serving teen nightclub in my home city that that my fake ID was real. How was I going to do that if I had bumfluff instead of stubble on my chin and a face full of spots?
Besides looking older I wanted to actually be older so I could escape from the seminary like existence in the boys secondary school I was attending and enter the promised land of university; where I would be treated like an adult and welcomed by hoards of beautiful college girls, carrying barrels full of beer, inviting me back to their on-campus after party.
And when I turned 18 I wanted to be 21 so I could get into the more sophisticated and uber cool establishments in my city, and get away from the drunken messy teen bars and clubs.
At the age of 28 I realized I was at my perfect age. I was sitting with my girlfriend. We were looking into each others eyes, as couples do, inhaling and exhaling smilingly. Then her face changed. Her eyes were drawn to just below my eyes. ‘’What’s this?’’ she said, ‘’ your getting wrinkles around your eyes’’. Oh no I thought – this is the beginning of the end for me. I was wrong, because then she said ‘’oh no, I like them, they give they give you character’’. I began to think about this remark. I am still in my twenties, I’ve a smattering of wrinkles to give me character, I am old enough to do everything I want to, and yet young enough to still be able to excuse myself for doing it. 28 is my perfect age;
I remember the day I turned thirty. It felt a bit odd trying to celebrate the first day of my thirties. Why would I want to celebrate that? It didn’t help the slagging my brother and girlfriend were giving me. The funny thing is I didn’t feel thirty, or that old really; I felt the same as I had the day before when I was 29.
It was the same when I turned 33, I still felt young. In fact I had coped pretty well to date with my gradual aging. It didn’t really bother me that my eyebrows now sprouted random thick, monstrosorous hairs which require trimming with a chainsaw; it didn’t really bother me that I had grown used to using my electric razor to shave the hair on my face and at the edges of my nostrils. And I was only mildly troubled that my hair seemed to be migrating from where it should be to where it shouldn’t.
Let me tell you about a shocking event that happened in February this year that made me realize I was truly aging. I was in the lift of my apartment complex with my wife. I was looking straight at the elevator door. She was turned towards me talking. Suddenly she ‘stopped mid-sentence – ‘’ there’s a hair sticking out of your ear’. What? Theres a what? Once I got to my bathroom I looked in the mirror and low and behold there was a long thick hair sticking out of my ear canal. I gripped it tightly and pulled. It was more than an inch long. This really shocked me. At once I had the image in my head of my decreased granddad, who used to have a thicket of grey hairs sprouting from both ears. My god I thought. I am turning into my dead granddad. That was the moment I realized I really was getting old. But like all the milestones in the aging process after a while you get accustomed to these things. I found a second hair growing in the same ear a few weeks later – no big deal.
Recently I was thinking about a trip I took to Porto in Portugal. Porto is the home of the worlds most famous Port houses. Port if you don’t know is a fortified wine – which means its strong in alcohol content and has a sweet taste. There I learned about the different varieties of port; the ruby ports which are young ports – fresh and fruity but lacking in complex flavour; the tawny and vintages port varieties are aged from 10 up to 40 years. This aging process makes the tawny and vintage ports richer in colour, more complex in taste and brimming with character. It dawned on me – aging men are like Port – what we lose in freshness, we gain in complexity and character!I realized men are blessed when it comes to aging. Just think of some of the most famous, most successful and most desirable male actors in the world currently – George Cluny, brad pitt, Johnny Depp,Daniel Craig and of course Jackie Chan! These guys are all mid-forties to 50’s
Conclusion: To the men in the room, I want to leave you with one message – we have nothing to fear in getting older. It is the process by which we develop our rich, complex, sweet character – just like a perfectly aged port.