It has always been drummed in our ears that one of the questions you should never ask a woman is how old she is. Many women will do everything and anything in their power to keep their true age a secret. The fact is that until around their mid twenties, many women will usually have no problem telling you how old they are. After 25, it is mostly just a guessing game. If you are keen enough to keep track, you could attempt to lodge a complaint and try to correct the lady whenever she shaves off a year or two but I warn you – results will vary from lost friendship to lost life. Beware! That said, it is becoming a common scenario that a couple of men are getting a little uncomfortable being ‘old’ and they too have joined in on the attempts to hide their true age. I originally thought a woman’s age, a man’s salary and the President’s mobile phone number are the 3 things you just will never know. As it turns out, the issue of age is more profound than I imagined. Anyway, I decided to take some time and dig a little deeper into this whole question of age so I could try to understand it better.
The Immaturity of some should-be-mature People
It would seem that as people grow older, the functionality of their brains will also mature. This of course, as fate would have it, is just but an assumption that is usually torn to shreds by a good number of folks. Many people have been victim to this and very often you will find these people behaving like and speaking like immature little fetuses. By the time an adult throws rubbish from his car window in the middle of town, you can’t help but wonder why such a person should not be taken through the paces at Kindergarten so they can learn not to litter. If you have been to several hang outs and night spots in Kampala, you will probably have witnessed the childhood madness that some menopause-bound women display. You will come across some really old women dressed like overzealous teenagers going for a sweet sixteen birthday party or looking like little girls going to the bar for the very first time and looking to leave an impression. They do succeed in leaving a lasting impression although most times it is not a good one. Occasionally you will see them being featured in the tabloids for reasons far from noble. It is true that we all have moments of childhood madness when we do things that are ideally suited for children. However if you are going to momentarily be young, do not go as low as sucking your thumb or walking around with your private parts out. We all have little children in us and we cannot be blamed for letting them out every now and again but in all honesty if you are an adult and the little child in you is making most of the decisions in your life, you need to consider suffocating that little child. Never mind the fact that child murder has been an issue of contention in Uganda. Just go ahead and starve the little chap to death; it is for your own good.
The Guessing & Estimation Game
There are times when you meet someone and instantly make an estimate about how old they might be, as observed from their speech, dress code and conduct. Sometimes you actually even know the person’s actual age because you probably studied together or you are somehow related. Despite this, you need to know that estimating or making a guess about how old they might be is not a wise thing to do. As I recently learnt, you should never estimate someone’s age no matter how tempting it might seem. Very recently I had the luck of getting invited for a birthday party of a dude who has been out of the country for quite a while. Since his return, he’s been throwing parties left right and center. First it was the comeback party, then there was a house warming, then he got a new dog and wanted to celebrate, then he got a maid and that too needed to be celebrated. This time round, it was his birthday; at least that is what I was told. While we were partying away the night, I very casually get into conversation with him and asked if he felt any different from how he felt a year ago. The conversation went something like this …
Me: So, dude, do you feel any different now?
Him: Nah. I still feel like I am 18.
Me: Awesome. You must be hitting the gym quite a lot and feeding well
Him: Not really. I think I just have good genes
Me: Good genes? Nice. So, how old are you anyway?
Him: I just made 25.
(At this point, I almost spat out my drink because this is a guy I studied with several years ago. I remember this so well because he was a class ahead of me and he tried to bully me, once or twice)
Me: 25? Hold up; I thought you were making 29 or 30… you sure it’s 25?
Him: This is why I hate you Ugandans!
(Note that he too is very much Ugandan. He just happened to live in the UK for 3 years)
Me: What’s up with Ugandans?
Him: You guys think that because a guy has money he must be old. I am just 25. I am not as old as you are. Deal with it!
This was probably my cue to end the conversation or switch to something else. There was the option of leaving the party altogether but of course that was not going to happen just yet coz a fresh supply of beer had just been brought in. There was no way I was leaving that behind. So I opted to switch the conversation to something more comfortable; sports. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. The guy was offended that I had thought he was ‘old’.
I spent a good chunk of the night avoiding him and wondering why he wanted to desperately to stay young yet some of us secretly hope we could add a year or two onto what we already have. People tend to respect you more and believe you more when you are older so naturally some of us prefer to have a few years added. Well, this dude just wasn’t one of us. Till now, I’m still wondering why a man would want to stay young.
Is Older Wiser?
The natural progression of things often dictates the older one grows the wiser they become. In many places this is not necessarily the case especially for those in positions of power. It would seem like when some politicians just get into power, they are full of ideas, extremely focused and often quite hardworking. A couple of years down the road and it seems like they get disillusioned and lose their sense of judgment. For many people in politics, the older you grow, the more you are loved but of course we all know that this is just so wrong, offensive even. People grow old and suddenly their taste buds for power demand more juices. They start to do some really strange things so they can make their stay in power longer. In my high school, during the Literature lessons, our teacher often told us to avoid ‘megalomania’ (desire to wield too much power or assumption that one’s power is very impacting) as much as we could because it was and still is the source of most of the world’s problems. The obsession of having too much power is something that many ‘older’ people tend to acquire with time. Many times, it gets to worrying levels especially when the older folks start stifling the younger and more exuberant folks. While everyone says “the Youth are the leaders of tomorrow”, it increasingly becomes evident that tomorrow is still quite far off. And so the ‘youth’ are resigned to complaining about the retirement age that seems worlds away. They are also resigned to taking home money in sacks, as donated by the older and wiser lot. Then there is the ‘Youth Fund’ that is always talked about but never seems to materialize. For such reasons, the Youth end up saying things like “older is not necessarily wiser.”
Very recently when the news of Sir Alex Fergusson’s retirement became main stream, it was obvious that everyone was shocked. This dude seems like he could carry on with his role for a few more years but for some reason, he opted to retire; while he was still loved. It would do us all a lot of good if the older and wiser folks picked a leaf or two, or three, or even the entire branch, from Sir Alex. He has decided to take a back seat even when it is clear that he could still manage the job for a longer while. How I wish a few folks did this. I would have loved to add a name or two but I recently learnt that some of the very old people are getting more and more on the internet so they can see what the fuss is all about. They might bump into this blog and my life, as we know it, will be ended in an instant. So I shall not name names of people who I think should retire. I will leave you to look at the roof, imagine a few names and silently say a prayer that they consider retirement sooner than later.
Avoiding an Early death
While you carry on living your life, there are some things you should avoid. Do not drink and drive, do not have unprotected sex, never touch electric wires with your bare hands and never under circumstances ask a woman her age. Until she has volunteered to tell you how old she is, you should stay away from this question as much as possible; you just may live long. It can however get tricky if a woman asks you how old you think she is. Take as much time as you need to answer this question because there is no room for failure. When a woman asks how old you think she is, it is most certainly your chance to either make a quick entrance into heaven or get a chance to live longer. If you are even as much as a day ahead of her real age, you are finished! If you are behind by a few years, you might get some reprieve. But then again, you do not want to make her so young because then, she will think you see her as a little child; you most certainly do not want that.
Becoming Young yet again
I know many people who are often told to “act your age” because they are indulging in activities that are far beneath their years. While I will recommend that everyone has to be more mature in the way they speak, act and dress, I also recommend that if you can stay forever young, go for it! Staying forever young should not be a ticket for one to act like an immature little imp. It should be a chance for one to refresh oneself about the things that truly make one overly excited. There are little things like playing video games, running in the rain, watching cartoons, struggling for the biggest piece of cake, wanting to be with your mother all the time and my personal favorite – arguing about who is stronger between Superman and Batman. These are things that you can and should indulge in as often as you possibly can so you can remind yourself that even though the body is ageing, the soul is only getting younger, or in the very least, it is staying the same age. Everyone owes it to himself or herself to discover the childish things that excite them and they should embrace these things as much as possible. It’s the key to living a longer and happier life; if the advice my therapist gave me is anything to go by. This week, I shall recommend that we all take some time to discover those interesting things that we loved when we were little, the things we might be seen doing and told to “act your age”, the things that we secretly want to do when no one is watching. It’s time to be young yet again.
As the week gets off to a good start, I shall let you all take some time to think of something that keeps your spirit young. Identify these things and embrace them right away.
Here’s your weekly dose of inspiration to get you going …
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. – Samuel Ullman
The Talkative Rocker