Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

I feel 30ish, but I’m not fooling the young and beautiful gatekeepers

Stock photo


The Essay is a daily personal piece submitted by a reader. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at

I look fortysomething (I see this in my mirror, not yours), feel 30ish, often act childish, but I am 50-plus.

This amalgam of perceived and real ages is confusing, and I have had no help from the federal government, demographers or my hairstylist, who extinguishes my grey every two months, in deciding what age to be.

Story continues below advertisement

The federal government says 67 is the new 65, while demographers tell me I am healthier, wealthier and maybe wiser than a man my age would have been 30 years ago.

Botox, Restylane, spinning classes, hair dye, minoxidil, Viagra, Harley Davidsons, BMW convertibles and Omega-3s are available to help me beat back my personal doomsday clock (you will have to guess which ones I use or have).

I read – a lot – and explain economics to teens, so my mind is still pretty sharp. My clothes are fashionable but not exuberantly youthful, so hoodies and visible boxer shorts are not part of my look.

I don't take photos of myself by holding a camera at arm's length, then post them to every social-media outlet possible, but I do have a few shots on Facebook (me buying a new SUV; me dressed in cowboy boots to attend a hoedown; me with two daughters, a wife and a dog).

Why is human aging defined by pithy lawn signs? Statements like "Fabulous at 50," "The

BIG 4-0," "Still sexy at 60," and "Lordy, Lordy, looks who's 40," adorn front yards.

If life is a highway, I would like to slow down before I get to the one that says "Final exit" or "Old, cold and soon to be mould."

Story continues below advertisement

However, few people drive by my house, so no one would even notice these signs if they were to appear, and older people think I am younger than my birthdate.

It's the young and beautiful who won't give me an inch (sorry, I meant centimetre) of leeway on the lines around my eyes.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Toronto to cruise bookstores with my daughter. We met up with my wife, after she finished work, to have a beverage at a trendy outdoor patio, a little island of "cool and sexy" on a desolate street with only tall buildings around it.

We arrived before the afterwork crowd descended, so a lot of tables were empty. The waitresses looked like the girls in a Robert Palmer video (a lost reference for everyone working there that day) and one of them, to steal a line from a movie, weighed us, measured us and found us wanting.

We were led to the very back of the patio, hidden from the street, so that sexier and younger people would not be put off by a middle-aged couple with a teen.

We ordered, drank and nibbled, and left before the hordes of pretty young things arrived (every table had been reserved).

Story continues below advertisement

I left a generous tip because the waitress was efficient and because I am old enough to know that the default 17 per cent on her debit machine was an insufficient reward for her attentiveness.

As we walked past the patio-gate man (a twentysomething body builder whose muscles will be no match for the march of time) I saw myself in the window and felt tired. I pined for my quiet backyard.

I realize that I can't hide my age from those who are still quite young. Twenty-year-olds have an instinctive reaction to age, and although they might not be able to guess mine within five years, they are fairly certain that I am past fortysomething, and that this is OLD.

An older man thinking he can fool anyone is a little like a four-year-old pretending to be invisible by putting a blanket over his head.

In the town of Dwight, Ont., where the family cottage is located, there is a modest building beside the general store. It's the seniors' centre and they host card nights (bridge or euchre, I think; no Texas Hold 'Em) and other low-key activities.

Ten years ago, I seldom gave it a second look, but I now pass it with a mix of sadness and derision. The sign above the door says "55 and over welcome," and soon enough they will greet me and sit me right at the front, in full view of everyone.

Maybe you have to be 80 to be forced to the back, though I doubt it, since fire regulations and emergency protocol might require the real oldsters to sit by the front exit.

"Never trust anyone over 30" is a refrain from the sixties, and the seventies TV show Logan's Run depicted 30-year-olds being extinguished in the Carousel. A line is always drawn around youth. The awesome young people who know they are sexy should remember that they, too, will one day be sitting at the back of the patio, hidden from the world.

If I am still around then, I am going to drive up to that patio on a Harley, dressed in camouflaging leather and a helmet with a dark visor. Won't they be surprised when they sit me at the front and I take it all off?

Kevin Bray lives in Aurora, Ont.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨