Last week I was walking home from work when I saw the shoe shine guy outside the Key Bank building. In the past he’s offered a shoe shine, in a very friendly way, and this time I made the spur of the moment decision to accept his offer. Why not take a few minutes for an old-fashioned personal service and come home with some spit and polish?
He turned out to be a good guy who did a really fine job on my shoes, and I’d definitely recommend him and use him again. As I sat in his chair and we talked, however, the conversation turned to our ages, and the shoe shine guy guessed that I was . . . 65.
“65? Wait, seriously — 65?” I was somewhat flummoxed. “I’m only 57!” “Sorry. I guessed wrong,” the shoe shine guy said, and then he went back to his work, flipping his brushes and applying his polish and snapping his towel as I stewed about the fact that I evidently look almost a decade older than my actual age. I gave him a good tip when he was finished and then headed home, trying not to walk with an old guy shuffle.
Kish gets a kick out of this story, and so do I. I’ve never been vain about my appearance because there’s absolutely nothing to be vain about: I’m about as average-looking as you can get. I know that as I’ve put on mileage I’ve acquired grey hairs and creases and wrinkles I didn’t have before. I’ve always thought, however, that you’re only as old as you feel and have tried to maintain a youthful attitude. Now I know that rationalization doesn’t apply to the exterior me — the shoe shine guy has confirmed it. If a guy who is working for a tip overshoots by eight years on his age estimate, you’ve got no room for argument or self-deception. You’re squarely in AARP territory.
Today, as I celebrate birthday number 58, I’ve adopted a more nuanced perspective on the shoeshiner’s comment. Who wants to look like a kid, anyway, and fret about whether their skin is smooth and their hair has the dewy sheen of youth? Why not embrace with the Keith Richards alternative instead? I apparently look like I’ve packed a full 65 years of living onto my 58-year-old frame. That’s not a bad thing in my book.