Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mind the Gap

Getting older does funny things to you. For one thing, you start to make noises when you get out of a car that you’ve been sitting in for a long time. Like “ouch”, if you’re an ang moh, and “aiyah”, if you’re not.

You suddenly realize too that you’re no longer the youngest person on the bus and you notice, with sudden fear, that a ten year old kid is looking at you and trying to decide if you’re old enough to stand and give up his seat for. The only reason he doesn’t is because you give him the look of the death that says, “Stand up and you’ll never see the other side of puberty!”

And you also start eyeing younger people with a jaundiced, almost cynical attitude.

Just the other day, I was window shopping along Orchard Road, minding my own business and wondering if it was time for lunch yet, when I was passed by a gaggle of teenagers dressed in an expensive combination of Reeboks, Ralph Lauren polo knits and, on one shoulder, a Goyard bag. Just the cost of the bag alone would have fed a medium sized African village for a year.

One said to the other with the kind of District 10 accent that you get only from going to ACS, “How can you like him? He’s so old!”

Ms Goyard squealed. “How can you say that? He’s only 29!”

“And you think that’s young?” came the ripping reply. He couldn’t have been more than 19. I hated him on sight.

Saffy says that if there’d been a staircase nearby, she would have pushed the kid down it. I did the next best thing. I made a beeline for Food Republic and drowned my sorrows in carbs and saturated fats with a big bowl of laksa.

“Were we ever that obnoxious?” I later asked.

“What you mean, ah?” Sharyn asked.

“Were we ever that ya-ya papaya?” Amanda translated.

“Oh. No, lah. Where got? I was lucky if my mudder bought me and my brudder a Crocodile shirt. Dat time, hah, where got Louis Vuitton, one? Fake one also don’t have! And I carry my lipstick in a Cold Storage plastic bag, some more!”

I said it wasn’t so much the cost of their accessories that bothered me the most. It was the fact that the kids – and they were kids – seemed to really believe that 29 was old.

“Wait till they hit 25 and get sacked,” Saffy said darkly, clearly recalling a pivotal moment in her life.

“Who were they talking about, anyway?” Amanda asked.

“Probably some foetus movie star like…like…oh God, I don’t think I even know anyone who’s 29!” Saffy griped.

What I want to know is how all this has come to pass and all without my even noticing it. One minute I’m the youngest person on the bus, and the next, I’m squinting at a menu in the restaurant, complaining that it’s too dark. The other day, I caught myself pushing the menu away from me as I struggled to focus on the small lettering of the appetizer section.

A few days after the Orchard Road Incident, I was having lunch with my best friend Karl. He arrived ten minutes late, sat down and immediately ordered a Martini.

“You’re starting lunch with a Martini?” I asked.

“I need it!” he growled. “I just had a colonoscopy!”

We proceeded to spend the next half hour discussing Karl’s family medical history and the implications of a positive and a negative result of the test.

And right there was another clear sign of the end of the world. Young people don’t need to think about a colonoscopy, let alone have one done. And I’m willing to bet that if you said the word to Ms Goyard, she would have looked at you sideways and taken a step backwards.

Which, of course, got me started thinking that maybe I also needed to get a colonoscopy.

Karl raised an eyebrow. “You’ve not had one done yet?”

Which started a whole other strand in the conversation about the last blood test and physical I’d taken.

Meanwhile, Saffy says she needs to go see our lovely dermatologist, Dr Tan, for her yearly check up. “It’s such a shame he’s married,” she said this morning. “I saw his wife at the clinic once, and can I just say that she’s been stretched so tight if you touched her, she’d vibrate like an A-minor chord? Anyway, I’ve waxed all over and I’m wearing brand new underwear. Just in case.”

“Oh my God, Saffy!” Amanda cried. “Isn’t he, like, 50?”

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