Old(ish) and in the Way

CurmudgeonA few weeks ago Europe celebrated the anniversary of VE Day, or Victory in Europe. There were little celebrations around the city, there was a tank in Dejvice Square.

On this day, which marks the partial end to the largest conflict in the history of mankind, I found myself wandering around the Million Marijuana March. This was a music festival held on Štvanice Island advocating the legalization of marijuana. While I have always felt that marijuana should be legal, I am not exactly an advocate, but rather I went to the festival to see friends who were there.

I have not been reminded of late spring college days more than when I wandered through this festival. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people, mostly young, drinking beer, playing games or lying about on the grass in little circles of their friends, listening to the great bands that played throughout the day. There was, as you’d imagine, a mushroom cloud above the park grounds, about 5,000 smiles, and 10,000 bloodshot eyes.

And me.

Rather than a grand reminder of my college days, it soon became a reminder of how long ago those days were. And as I walked around the park taking in the sights, sounds, and people, it occurred to me that I must resemble either a NARC or a nervous dad looking for his daughter, hoping the police don’t fine him for double parking the minivan. After walking around, I went back to the hotdog truck that my friends were working, leaned against it and watched the young people.

At 40 years old, I don’t feel unpleasantly old on a daily basis. I feel good about my age, happy about the insights and wisdom that I am occasionally granted, and even comfortable with my own limitations. However, I do believe that the universal powers that be put me into situations whose very goal is to remind me how old I am.

These situations are pretty varied. I muttered “damn kids” after being awakened at 4 a.m. by some young people drunkenly and loudly staggering up the back steps. A group of lost Italian tourists asked me for help and called me “Sir” roughly 200 times in 3 minutes. I got to a concert last month and the very first thing I did upon arrival was figure out where the bathrooms were. And two weeks ago I had to run for the tram and an old woman offered me her seat. I almost cried.

The Million Marijuana March was one of these situations. Everyone around me seemed younger, fitter, and more energetic. I felt old. I worried about the too-drunk people passed out in the grass, winced at some of the provocative clothing the girls were wearing, and rolled my eyes at the loud drunk people glaring around the park for trouble. Mostly content to chat with my friends and sip beers and talk, the overall youthfulness of the park grounds was not lost on me.

Fortunately, the universal powers that be treat me somewhat fairly and I am often given the benefit of perspective. Again, this comes in a variety of forms. Today, it’s in the form of those men who are in their 40s and yet desperately trying not to be in their 40s. There are a few of them, donning questionable clothing, sideways baseball caps, shouting and carrying on, and hitting on girls young enough to be my hypothetical daughter.

I mosey off to get another round of beers for my friends. As I wait in line, a drunk punkish guy bumps into me and I immediately sense trouble. He glares at me, and then his face softens: “Sorry sir,” he says and walks off.


  1. #1 by PJ on May 25, 2015 - 12:45 pm

    I have caught myself thinking “Damn kids” more than once. Usually when I hear someone’s music blasting through their headphones. That’s immediately followed by the thought “you’ll go deaf, and it’ll serve you right”

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