-So, ah… what’s the worst part about being old, Alvin?
-The worst part of being old is rememberin’ when you was young.
Straight story, directed by David Lynch
When you are a child, there are but two ages: children and grown-ups.
In adolescence they become three: The kids, “we”, and the old ones. The old ones is anyone over thirty.
In your thirties, give or take something, nothing is certain. You can be a parent, but you can also live your life like an adolescent. You’re not young. The eighteen-year-olds respect or make fun of you when you strive so hard to prove you’re one of them.
Then you become forty and all the twenty-year olds call you sir/madam.
You may feel like mutton dressed up as lamb, despite the pains around the midriff and the morning headache – if you drink,by chance, a little bit more.
If you’re a woman, you might do well with youngsters (20+) and the thirty-year-old men who know that a forty-year-old woman is worth two twenty-year-old women.
Women, so they say, are sexually liberated after their forties. Why did they wait for so many years?
If you’re a man, you have probably some white hair by now and you’ve learned that sex isn’t all about satisfying your ego. Why did you have to turn forty to get to the point?
At forty you’re neither old nor young. You’re not considered as a middle-aged yet. But you feel the pressure of time on your back.
Having a child in adolescence paves the way for the guillotine. Whether you want it or not, you will become more conservative than your child; and this will cost you.
You’ve got to tell them, for the first time, to turn the music down in their room.
You’ll scold them if they come home at 3 a.m. – particularly if they’re drunk.
You’ll tell them not to hang around with this bunch which is a bad influence-Neo-Nazi as it gets, that’s what they are.
You’ll try to convince them that this particular heartbreak isn’t the end of the world; there are many people to get to know, there are many people to fall in love with, and this “I’m dying of love” they say is beyond you.
You will tell them that they have to study, no matter how grim the educational system is – the school, the teachers.
Perhaps you’ll tell them that they must have, apart from their dreams, a diploma too, a job, to make a living.
And then you realize you’re starting to get older. Maybe responsibilities are to blame or fatigue or disappointment or the insight you’ve gained, but no matter what it is, no matter what you call it, you don’t believe anymore, body and soul, in dreams.
-I’ll change the world, your kid tells you.
-This world will never change Kemal1, is your answer.
Once you utter this phrase (this world will never change) then be certain about it, you’re old.
It’s very rare, rarer than white crows, for an old man to believe that the world could become a fairer place or at least a trifle better. And it’s almost impossible for this very old man to believe that he – his own self- can change the world.
-There is one good thing about gettin’ old, says Lynch’s hero, you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and let the small stuff fall away.
That’s the ultimate thing a man can do: Let the small stuff fall away. And take relish in their last moments.
Because everyone, no matter how religious they are, knows that they won’t eat chocolate again after they die.
No. There is no chocolate in Heaven. Nor Guiness. Nor sex.
That’s why many prefer to spend eternity in Hell.
It’s funny, biological, superficial or I don’t know what, but it looks very real.
Dreams are directly proportional to sexual lust.
Life is absolutely connected with sex.
The adolescents are drowned in hormones. The kiss alone is a big bang, it’s a smash, it’s God.
Hormones and dreams, that’s what adolescence is made of.
Then, day by day, year by year, decade by decade, sexual lust is waning and dreams buddy up with compromises, obligations, responsibilities.
You keep on thinking about sex but you don’t have enough time or you’re not up to it, let alone the fact that you have to wake up early to take the kids to school. The agenda is full of obligations and somewhere in there, if there is a blank space, you jot down: Sex? (always followed by a question mark)
Then you begin underestimating it, as Festinger said: “Since I’m not having it, I must believe that it’s not worthwhile”
And you’re still forty-something. Your body asks, wants for it, it can take more. Your soul is thirsty, loves it, anticipates it. But life is hard and time is limited and how can you have sex with three children in the house?
Before you even know it you’re fifty-sixty-seventy and you don’t care about sex. Neither are you dreaming. Your body can’t take much, you do not have much time left.
You look at the pictures you took when you where forty one-two-three-five-eight and you figure out that in spite of the shallow wrinkles, you were pretty.
That in spite of the grey hair, you were charming.
Your partner is gone now.
You’re sleeping. Alone in the double bed.
You remember. That night she had put on a dress and no underclothes and you danced, clung to each other, in the living room, a midweek night with Billie singing: “Someday he’ll come along…”
You remember. How you fell on the sofa, the chair, the floor, the bed, the floor again, the wall, the bed, the floor until the night surrendered to daylight and you succumbed to sleep, joyful, happy, young, without a care of what the time was, what day was breaking and what year.
You remember. Just before you close your eyes you looked into her eyes and told her:
“If I die now, I won’t mind”
You remember. She laughed. Just before she slept.
You remember. And then you fall asleep.
- Out of Manos Chatzidakis (music) / Nikos Gkatsos (lyrics) song entitled Kemal.
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Translated by Alexandros Mantas
Edited by Jackie Pert