I ventured into Manchester this morning, ostensibly to show our new Swiss student how to get to the English Language Academy, but I also wanted to pick up a couple of pair of jeans. I had asked my wife if I should get the type that have the fashionable tears in them, to which she pointed out that I am now forty two and have left it too late to jump the fashion train.
Heeding her advice, I walked my retro walk around town instead. It was when I went to try on the jeans that I had selected that I realised just how in denial I am about the passage of time.
In the accusing confines of the fitting room, I was trapped in a cell clad with mirrors on every side. A reflection of me of a reflection of me of a reflection of me ramming home an echoing damnation that I am no longer the young guy that I always claim to be.
Caught in that kaleidoscope of unforgiving mirrors, there was nowhere for me to hide. I could see for the first time how much weight I have put on, but more disconcertingly, I could see just how much my hair is thinning.
Thickening below, thinning above, I am taking the tonsure of terror.
Damn you, merciless time, damn you!
Within this emphasised and enhanced indictment of visual decay, I donned for the first time my badge of middle age. I came out of that fitting room a changed man, in both attire and attitude, finally aware of where I am on life’s path.
But It didn’t last.
Away from those revealing mirrors and waistline labels, I put it all out of mind, flipping the finger at mobility scooters and high fiving the school-skipping kids riding the escalators. I was quite cool in my denial again. I really am adept at constructing my own reality.
But this time, uniquely, my facade would be occasionally pierced. Everywhere I looked, on the journey home, there were reminders.
I shrugged them off as I boarded my bus, put on my iPod, sent texts to my homies, and wondered, not for the first time, ‘just what the hell is snapchat?’
I made a mental note to ask my daughter.