Two random and unrelated moments of late are giving me pause. I admit to always being on the lookout for signs that I am finally starting to act like a member of AARP; little points in time when I display characteristics of being stuck in an earlier era. Hopefully without the requisite old man smell.
At first blush I am indeed an older man who does his best to keep up with the times. To wit: I subscribe to a handful of streaming services; I use a Mac computer and iPhone; and I not only pay store cashiers using a digital wallet, but I also pay all of my bills electronically. I even — GASP! — own shares in an ETF and not just those stodgy mutual funds (I realize investing in crypto might sound more stylish, but that’s a financial crossing of the Rubicon I’m pretty sure will never happen).
As always, it helps to have a jury of my peers. So I’ll let you, dear readers, be the judge for any displays of mission creep:
In the first instance, just the other day I discovered that my dress watches all have dead batteries in them. We were headed out to an engagement and I wanted to wear my dad’s old Seiko, only to find it dead as a doornail. Sadly, both my old Movado and Citizen had the same problem.
But then, lying way in the back, I spotted my trusty old Wittnauer, a ‘circa 1940’s wind-up watch which still works wonderfully. Its provenance is mildly complicated: a token remnant of my first marriage, though thankfully not one that carries deep significance — it was passed down to my ex, who then gave it to me, and she ultimately ended up being unmoved by it when we separated possessions prior to our divorce. It’s not a watch I wear very much, partly due to that history, but mostly because I remain more enamored by the eighties and nineties flash of my battery powered ones. Still, the Wittnauer is a fine vintage watch. I wore a suit to our engagement the other evening and I thought it added a measure of dash.
The second moment is when I noticed that my tires needed air. At this point, you might be seeing a pattern. Does this man actually know how to maintain things? (the short answer to that is “Yes, but there are YouTube videos of Don Rickles to watch.” The more honest explanation is that I’m overdue for an oil change and rotation). So I drove to the gas station to fill them up. As I waited while two cars ahead of me used the air machine, I watched both sets of drivers use their debit cards to pay for the air. I had no intention of doing that. I always have quarters sitting out in my vehicle. My 2007 Toyota has two open trays to store quarters; one that holds up to eight coins, the other ten. I nearly always keep all 18 compartments full. It’s not a point of pride so much as the 23 year old in me from 1982 still thinks it looks cool to have them filled.
The soon-to-be 63 year old that is my present self also notices that they charge more to use debit and credit cards in those machines.
Where am I going with this? I see myself holding on to habits and usage that are no longer really in vogue. Anachronistic tendencies of mine manifesting and on full public display.
Yes, yes, I see those fancy electronic “watches” that people now wear to get notified about emails, text messages, constant updates on where the closest barista is located, etc. (I also realize they also have critical health monitors used by some). But come on, those aren’t watches so much as devices. Plus, they all look like one is wearing a mini iPad on one’s wrist. And who carries coins anymore, really? During lockdown stores and banks were literally begging for people to bring in all the change they were storing in jars at home because there was a shortage of them. Gorgeous is constantly placing her spare change on my desk because she doesn’t want to be bothered with it at the bottom of her purse anymore. We’re all using our cards to even buy one single item now.
Yet, I can’t or don’t want to let go completely. I’ve worn a watch since I was 10 years old, when I saved my allowance and paperboy money to buy a silver Timex from the uptown Rexall drugstore in my hometown. I still toss loose change in my pocket every time I go out because, you never know, I might want to buy a package of Sugar Babies.
So go ahead and mock me. But I bet I can tell you the time quicker than it takes for you to pull out your phone and look.
Until next time…