Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Like a fine wine

I called a friend in Florida this morning. Helen and I are of an age, and we both like to rattle on, so we were on the phone for a couple of hours; God bless unlimited dialing and roll-over minutes!

The conversation rambled, as I said, we both like to talk, but it kept coming around to the issue of age. At sixty-two, we are both starting to experience more than the normal aches and pains of life; Helen is having some mobility problems, due to her knees, and the eye doctor told me last week I am showing the first signs of cataracts. Bummer.

But one of the things that we spoke of is the idea of three ages. Maybe you've heard the theory, maybe not. It suggests that there are three ways of measuring a person's age: chronological, physiological and intellectual.

Chronological age is the easy one; it's the measure of how long it has been since we were born.

Physiological age is a little more complicated, but still easy to touch; it's how old our body says we are. We've all had the experience, I am certain. We see someone we haven't seen for a time and say, sometimes just to ourselves, "She (or he) looks so old!" The opposite is true, too; some people just age well, like a fine wine.

Intellectual age is the sticky one.

Growing up, we all heard our parents or grandparents or teachers say, "Act your age!" We talk about the Peter Pan syndrome or say that some one is young at heart.

There's an apocryphal story, usually attributed to Charles Addams, creator of the Addams Family, or scifi/horror author Robert Bloch, which says, "I have the heart of a teenager -- in a large jar on the top shelf of my bedroom closet."

Wherever his heart was, my grandfather used to say, "You're only as old as you think you are." I think he was right. I know it puzzles me why baretenders serve me these days without asking for proof of age.