So when Elderly people leave their appointment with the doctor, and they say to me “He said to come back in a year,” and I ask “Would you like to schedule that?” Quite often they’ll say “Oh, honey, I don’t even know if I’ll be here!” Then they guffaw and cackle.
So this is awkward. What, do I laugh with them? That’s normal, to laugh when others laugh. It’s the tribe-mentality/herd-bonding thing in us.
So do I laugh? Because the joke is “I’m damn old and will die at any moment. Hah HAH HAH!”
Do I say “Oh, no, you’re still young! You’ve got years yet!” Cuz that’s a lie. They aren’t young, and I dunno when anyone’s gonna die.
Do I say, “Well, true. No point till we get closer to the date. One of your age should not be buying green bananas.” That doesn’t seem right. It’s honest, and very healthy for them to be calm and accepting of the inevitable. But it feels wrong for me to be flip about it.
Usually I just chuckle with them, say nothing, and hope they walker-shuffle on without expecting too much conversation. That seems maybe a cold approach, but you see…
I know what they’re doing!
Yeah, I’m on to them. See, one of the benefits of achieving advanced age is a high level of “don’t give a care”ness. Social consequences mean less to them. Actually, it’s more like they see truth better – when you are a youngster, a new social creature, you think the consequences of every social interaction are DIRE AND EVERLASTING. You know, if someone says your shoes look stupid and everyone laughs at you it feels like your life is over and the hurt and shame of being trapped in this awful, wrong version of you will last forever, without any hope of escape. EVER. This fades with time, chips and flakes away, and slowly you learn that your little gaffs and offenses won’t last, and slights suffered don’t have much long term effect. By the time you’re old it’s completely gone. You’ve got better things to do, better priorities than worrying about small stuff. Sure, big bad things have big bad consequences, but the small stuff is just fluff.
In short, you’ve learned you can screw around with stupid young people, and get away with it.
That’s what they’re doing! I see it! Watching me squirm as they joke around about death because why TF not?
It’s things like this that make me look forward to getting old. I’m gonna be such a delightful jerk, bandying out black humor left and right with a genial wrinkled smile. It’s gonna be freakin’ grand.