One of the crueller things about life is that after a certain point, you stop thinking of yourself as getting older. My adult readers know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m willing to bet that you don’t feel appreciably older than mid-twenties. Oh sure, you’re back might hurt a bit more and it might take a bit longer to recover from a workout, but in your head you are substantially the same person you’ve always been.
I imagine that it might be even worse for non-teachers, because folks with real jobs don’t have the vigor of youth thrown in their face every day, but even teachers aren’t immune to this particular delusion. It takes a fairly serious shock to awaken folks to the idea that you are not, in fact, anything like you were in your mid-twenties.
I have had two such shocks in the last few days and as a result I’ve been barely able to force myself to crawl out of bed, fix my comb-over, and go to work. The first shock arrived in the workroom in the form of a vaguely familiar new teacher (I can always spot the new teachers because they are smiling). She looked at me a moment and asked if I remembered her. Apparently I had taught this young lady back in the day when I was teaching middle school. Have I really been doing this long enough for former students to have grown up into actual human beings? Surely this person is mistaken and has me confused with someone else! (Of course, if that’s true then that means that I still look old enough to have been her teacher, which is not all that comforting either.) My second shock occurred on the soccer field. I’ve been officiating the adult games on the military base for the last few weeks and last night one of the players approached me, “Coach, is that you?” One of my former high school players (who gave me no end of grief, by the way) is now a perfectly respectable adult who seems to have his life in good order.
What the hell is going on?! When did I become so freakin’ old? I’ve consulted with both WebMD and Wikipedia and apparently whatever it is that happened to make me so old is irreversible and ultimately fatal. I also consulted with some colleagues here in the Maze of Meandering Mathematicians and they have assured me that it’s going to get worse; a lot worse.
Frankly, I’m not sure that I can handle it. I think that in order to combat this problem I’m going to have to buy a jeep, learn to surf, and maybe even drink 2 beers tonight! Oh yeah, no more getting old for this guy!