How I know I Am Older

by Thomas A. Damron
(Plano, TX)

How I Know I Am Older:

Or, Oh, My God! When Did I Begin Talking To Myself?

The first inkling of aging came when my barber casually remarked one morning while I sat in his chair getting my locks shorn: "Tom, you certainly have an abundantly full head of gray hair for your age."

Wisely, I didn't turn my head to object or comment because that's a dangerous move while someone holds a razor near your carotids. You see, I remembered the name of his shop --"The Razor's Edge."

I waited several minutes until the razor was in my sight and asked, "Mike, is having abundant hair unusual at, as you say, my age? He dropped the razor in the bowl and whispered, "Yeah, I think probably so, but I'm not certain because I don't have any other customers as old as you," and then he quickly turned away and laughed all the way to the reception desk to deliver my tab to Joyce who was puzzled by his laughter.

However, his statement was a stimulating turning point in my thoughts as well as my life. From then on, I took time to examine other elderly men as I tried to judge the amount of hair they had compared to the amount I have on my head.

I had to agree that Mike was right. Most men of my age grouping have either vast bald areas or the hair is so thinning on top, it is soon to be history.

Comb-over's--think Donald Trump--are obvious with many of those in the thinning process who desperately attempt to disguise the vast bald desert that shines in the light above their ears.

As for my gray abundant hair; I proudly walk a little taller now without the traditional 'Gimme' cap worn by so many of the others who are in my age group.

The hair check unfortunately quickly brought home another, even more disturbing revelation that I was unaware of until my spouse asked me a pointed question one afternoon while we were shopping. It occurred after I stood back and watched another old fellow buying an ice cream cone in the Mall.

Jan turned to me and asked what I had said. When she asked the question, I was staggered to realize I had been talking to myself. Out loud! In the Mall! The disastrous recognition was the worst part; I talked without knowing it!

It triggered my memory when I realized I was doing as I had caught my Dad doing when he hit seventy-five, forty years ago. Wow! I'm already seventy-eight.

Which makes it really depressing to me? I clearly remember him in his recliner busily talking to himself as he polished his shoes. When I asked him what he was saying he got all huffy and snapped, "What kind of a question is that? I wasn't talking. I'm busy doing my shoes." I responded with an off-hand, "Well, maybe you were singing." His answer flew back rapidly, "You know damned well I can't sing. You must be hearing things, Anthony."

Ah, yes. Anthony. My middle name. His rich Uncle. Using that name was the code word in our relationship that meant "Mind your own damned business." That was a true sign of the close fellowship we enjoyed in his elderly years. Not that there's anything wrong about talking--or singing--to oneself. My seven year-old Grandson does it all the time. But, Geez! I'm seventy-eight and to realize that I converse with an imaginary friend all day long is somewhat disconcerting and an affront to my dignity. The only salvation is that my imaginary friend gives me mostly highly intelligent answers, and that is more than I can say about some of my real-life friends.

Take it from me, when you become aware of your verbal exchanges in public, the first thing you are going to do is cautiously glance all around while wondering if anyone heard you, hoping against hope.

I do, and when that happens, I vividly picture myself as the homeless character, shopping cart piled full, shuffling down alleyways drooling, mumbling to myself as I search the dumpsters behind McDonald's for half-eaten hamburgers and a few fries with that.

I straighten my back and say out-loud, "There, except for the grace of God, go I." Whoa! I sneakily look around again to see if anyone nearby heard that remark, extremely relieved that no one is eying me suspiciously.

Back home, I get on the Internet to check my e-mail. Reading what a few friends have sent grabs my attention and I am absorbed in the content of the message when Jan stands in the doorway and says, "Who are you talking to?" Caught red-handed, I try my best to cover by answering, "No one. I was repeating a few lines of the message I am reading. Why?"

Unconvinced, she continues, "I would have sworn it was more of a conversation than the words of a message, that's why. Are you positive you aren't talking to yourself?"

Light Heartedly, I respond, "Well, if I were talking to myself, it had to be a high level important delivery to a sharp, savvy listener, wouldn't you agree?" She turned and left the room. Even though she has Alzheimer's, she still recognizes the difference between a conversation and reading a message. I have to keep a closer eye on my office door from now on.

Okay, I'll admit that since this now seems to be an ongoing unconscious reaction on my part, I needed to begin searching for a foolproof solution.

Accidentally one day, I stumbled on to the perfect answer while sitting in a Starbucks waiting for Jan to buy me some sugar-free chocolate malt balls at the Candy World next door.

Observing a thirty-something web-surfer at the next table, I thought I saw him talking to himself until I became aware of the bug in his ear. He spoke for a few minutes longer and I watched him tap it, and then quit talking.

That's when it hit me! Blu-Tooth! That's my answer. A Blu-Tooth device. I confess I have no idea what blu-tooth is or how it works. I only know that I am now carrying on my conversations, confident that those who catch me conversing with myself, including Jan, happily sport a knowing smile when they see that black blu-tooth bug sticking in my ear. If they still seem skeptical, I tap it! I shut up! Problem solved.

Since I solved my talking situation, I still survey older men's hair, and I'm happy to report that I'm still winning.

But, I often wonder what all those people would think if they found that it isn't connected to a cell phone.

Comments for How I know I Am Older

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by: Anonymous


I catch myself talking out loud when I am at the department store. I didn't even care, but now that I know it's a sign of aging I will be very aware to close the mouth. You were smart with the blue tooth. That's actually makes me laugh.

How conscious we all are
of what people are talking about us or will go home and tell someone they see how they saw a person talking. I am sixty eight years old. I think I am attractive, but maybe I don't realize how old I look. Time goes by so quickly.

So this April my son 31 and me are going to Europe,
before the estate sale where my stuff is out in the garbage. WTF all your life in the trash.

No wonder I don't like doing the laundry anymore. This AM I saw a lump of gray hair under my bangs immediately I got out the hair dye and got rid of it.

My husband 60 still works so I spend a lot of time alone. Sometimes I get lonely. When he's off he's on the computer. My son lives with us temporarily and he is a nurse, once and awhile he goes out with his friends. I don't ask him too many questions and we laugh so hard when we go to the show maybe once a month.

I worry sometimes but then I thank God I am independent and can walk and in OK health. Well, enough.

Thanks for sharing your story, life is so full of suprise particularly when the barber opens his big mouth while laughing, what a unpolite jerk. gives you a complement and then takes it back.

Talking to oneself
by: elna nugent, lenox ma

Dear Thomas:

I had never talked to myself in my life until I lived by myself and was amazed I was able to do anything I wanted - when I wanted to - which had never happened before. Exhilarating.

My family members live nearby and I see or hear from them daily. But I have found that I will say things out loud to myself, especially if I have too many things I have to do, and it is slightly stressing.

I discovered online that this can "make us smarter". Lights up the cerebral cortex which is linked to memory, awareness , perception etc. ...especially self talk like telling ourselves to get busy and get a job done, or telling ourselves we have done well.

Top athletes often do this, saying things like " Hey keep your eye on the ball" etc. This works.

Whatever you are doing is probably good for you.

Trust it.

by: Carol K

A great story, Tom.

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