I’m not really in favor of this getting old stuff. I’ve no reason to doubt that it beats the alternative by a mile — at least for now — but apart from a certain bemused perspective on things that formerly seemed much more important, I’d gladly trade the mature philosophy for the steel trap memory of my callow youth.
The people who have attempted to turn our 40-year-old apartment building into luxury condos — at substantial expense and with limited success — recently lined our elevator with mirrors. It’s the only elevator in the building, so it’s also the one everyone uses for moving things in and out of the three upper floors. The previous Formica lining, far and away more durable than mirrors, was pretty well beaten up after a couple of years. One need not speculate for long to discern the eventual outcome of that portion of the renovation.
While we reflect on the optical disaster to come, however, we have the privilege of observing our increasingly decrepit corporal selves in halogen-lit starkness twice a day or so. You must understand that there was a time when I — and most assuredly my ex-model wife — had no fear of mirrors, and were in fact known to frequently seek them out. In my case, at least, that’s no longer true. I don’t exactly shy from them as if threatened with a sharpened stake but, on the other hand, that business of having no reflection in mirrors must comfort an aging vamp along about the third millennium or so.
In my case, I still half expect to see the 24-year-old who used to swim two or three miles every now and then, just because he could — the same s.o.b. who could walk into Sears, buy anything off the rack, and walk out looking like an ad in Esquire. The reality isn’t actually all that bad, it’s just not who’s supposed to be there.
My wife, the shrink and ex-model (clearly a much healthier person than I emotionally) just adjusts her blouse and checks her makeup. I try to ignore the old guy standing next to her, handsome and distinguished though he may be. Callow youth beats distinguished in a fair fight every time, at least in the view from this end.
It’s not forever, though. Those mirrors can’t last much longer…