By Gerry Moran
Hi, my name is Gerry, and I am an ‘elderly person’. I don’t want to be an ‘elderly person’ and I don’t like being an ‘elderly person’. But, time marches on, yours truly is ‘getting on’ and so, it’s an ‘elderly person’ I am. Oh, and there are two pieces of paper to prove it – one, my birth certificate and two, page 377 of my Oxford Concise Dictionary which defines ‘elderly’ as: ‘somewhat old, past middle age’ (Ouch! The truth hurts),
And whatever about arguing with the Oxford Concise (and I wouldn’t dare) you certainly can’t argue with a birth cert. A birth cert is sacrosanct. A birth cert is infallible (unless, of course, espionage is your chosen profession. And good luck to you with that). A birth cert is imperative when applying for a passport or drawing down the old age pension, not to mention free travel; best thing since the sliced-pan. Except I am not into travel. I, who has had to be dragged to Tramore, let alone Tenerife or St Tropez.
Now, is elderly the same as old, you may well ask. Then again you may not ask because you are a 30-something triathlon athlete for whom the words ‘elderly’ and ‘old’ are totally irrelevant. Good for you. But they will be some day. That’s not a prophesy. That’s a fact. Of life.
Anyway, I’d rather be ‘elderly’ than ‘old’. ‘Old’ sounds – old! It sounds short and sharp. And final. Almost. A bit too close to the bone, and the box, if you follow me. ‘Elderly’ on the other hand sounds more graceful, not a lot more graceful but more graceful than old.
I am in no frame of mind to entertain the notion of old, I’m doing rather well, I think, coming to terms with the fact that I am elderly. Oh, a quick aside – here’s how you know if you’re old: if you slip on the street (on a banana skin, whatever) and people come running to help – you’re old. If they laugh – you’re not old. Not even elderly.
Following are a few pros and cons about being ‘elderly’. First, the word ‘pardon’ features regularly in your conversations – with your wife, your friends and your drinking companions. The reason for this is because you have ‘elderly’ ears and more than likely require ‘elderly’ hearing aids. That’s if you haven’t had them installed already.
You find yourself going to funerals often. Too often. And you can’t hear the eulogy properly unless you sit in the front pew with the chief mourners. Which would not be kosher. You become cranky. Contrary even. Although this might be particular to this ‘elderly person’ (who was probably always bordering on cranky). Your fashion-sense (if you ever had one) deserts you and you need guidance (more than likely from your wife) when purchasing socks, let alone a three-piece-suit which elderly persons have little use for. And if you do purchase a three-piece, or even a two-piece suit (for a son or daughter’s wedding perhaps) you know you’ll never wear it out!
As for the pros of being elderly – and there aren’t many –there’s the free travel pass which I’ve already covered. Also when you are travelling, on a crowded train or bus say, someone may well offer you their seat which is actually annoying because they’re mistaking you for old, which you are not!
Parking spaces for ‘elderly persons’ I appreciate and use that’s if they’re not being abused, by neither elderly nor old persons. Just last week a young fellow pulled out of one in his souped-up Honda Civic. I was tempted to drive after this whippersnapper who, I reckon, only started shaving last week, but I wasn’t able to pull out in time. So, parking spaces for the elderly are fine but the problem we have is actually manoeuvring in, and out, of them.
Oh, and while I’m on parking – what’s with people pulling into ‘Reserved for Families’ spaces and not a baby or child in sight? I’d love to approach them and ask: “Hey, where’s the family?” And they have no point telling me: “I have four at home or in school.” I too have four (albeit abroad) but I’m damned if I’d park in a family space.
And I’ve digressed, I realise, but that’s what happens when you’re ‘elderly’!
I may just get on with it.