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My wife has informed today that I am an anachronism.
It’s been a running joke for the entire time we have known each other that I was “older” than my chronological age. My interests always seemed to be those of someone a few years older.
Generationally, I was misplaced. My brother joked that I was born 40. I don’t know how accurate that statement truly was when he said it, but I have it under reasonable authority I was born wearing khakis and loafers and asking for a double old fashioned (and don’t be stingy with the booze).
As I have aged, I have grown into my interests and they are more appropriate for someone of someone nearing 50 than someone in his 20s. When most men my age are trying to be younger, I seem to be wishing to be older. I know, when we are kids we all want to be adults. When we are teenagers, we just want to be out on our own. Somewhere along the way, that all goes to aitch-ee-double-hockey-sticks and we just want to be young again.
A buddy of mine is celebrating a birthday today. He is not yet 40. He likes to say how he is feeling old, but he can do a lot more physically than I can. He’s much more active and athletic and I am what they used to call a couch potato. Most of the folks I work with are in their 30s and younger and some of them are young enough to be my children. They call me The Old Man and make jokes about how I get tired easily and can’t do a lot of the physically taxing tasks any longer.
I’m not an old man, really, but I am older than they and I am someone’s grandfather. I graduated high school before a lot of them were born.
That said, I have realized that I have grown into my age. I am perfectly comfortable being a 50-year-old man (49 ½, actually, but who’s counting?). I did not experience some sort of midlife crisis and go out and buy a red Italian sports car. I don’t wear skinny jeans and stuff the younger people wear. I dress appropriately for a man of my age. Well, a man of my age in 1984.
In my day, it was called preppy. My wife still calls it that, but no one else does. The young people I know don’t seem to understand that it’s a classic look that has lasted generations. To them, it’s goofy and silly when I wear chino shorts with little waterfowl or crustaceans on them.
My Sperry Top-Siders are old-fashioned and out of style. My wife says my polo shirts are colored like beach houses with their pastel colors. I only wear solids and not stripes. I have belts with whales on them, some with nautical flags on them. I wear loafers with no socks and old Levi’s jeans. My sunglasses are battered Ray-Ban Wayfarers, albeit with prescription lenses.
I still own at least three pairs of penny loafers. I don’t put the penny in them anymore, not because I think the look is outdated, but I can’t bend over that far to put them in. I wear them without socks a lot, because that’s what you do.
I don’t own a suit anymore, but I have three blazers: corduroy, tweed and a navy blazer with brass buttons. They are all-purpose and always in style, no matter what anyone tells you.
I do recall the last time I had to dress up. I was wearing khakis and a navy blazer with a regimental stripe necktie. I was doing fine until I ran into a group of Catholic school boys on the street and they thought I was just a really old student. I told them I wasn’t and a nun hit me across the knuckles with a ruler for fibbing to children.
I guess it’s true that my personal style might be a little outdated. I prefer to call it classic.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I joked about getting tattoos. We really weren’t going to do it, but we still talked about what we would get. My wife admitted to considering a small sunflower or something similar. She asked me, and I gave her the most honest old preppy answer I could give her. I said I would get a small alligator.
On the left side of my chest.
Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.