You can live to be a hundred if you forego all those things that made you want to live to be a hundred in the first place

Woody Allen

I recently attended an older friend’s birthday party. I mean, there were so many candles on the cake we had to keep a prudent fire extinguisher about. 

And even though I attended, the median age of the guests was still 70. Ok, I lied: the only reason the median age there was 70 was because we had a child at the do. 

Tempus fugit or, literally, “time flies”. And how it does, irretrievably and with an awful finality. One minute I was a teenager who couldn’t wait to grow up to find out about girls, and the next, I was in my mid-30s and somebody had pressed the fast-forward button on my life’s time clock. 

I realise now that I fairly whizzed through the phase when I used to be adik (little brother) to anyone who did not know me. The salutation made me feel that everything was hunky-dory in my world. 

Then, one day when I was lining up to pay for my lunch at the canteen of the New Straits Times’ offices, a mere slip of a girl at the counter intoned matter-of-factly: “Tiga ringgit abang.” (Three dollars, older brother).

Now, of course, I’ve graduated to the grander title of “Uncle” from people I’m perfectly sure aren’t related to me. 

And the worst part is receiving it from people that shouldn’t be calling you that in the first place. 

Example: I called a cab recently and the driver turned out to be a fellow who should have had no business driving anything much less a cab. I mean, he had to be somewhere in his 70s. 

And he had the cheek to ask: “Going to the club-ah Uncle?”

How does the Road Transport Department even give them permits?

It’s been over 40 years since I graduated, and my marriage has entered its 37th year. Yikes! It used to be about spills and thrills. Now it’s about ills and pills. Next, it’ll be about wills! 

I kid you not.  

There are the things you miss. Hair, for instance. I used to have masses of it. In university, I grew hair long enough to rest on my shoulders because I could. I also played guitar in a band and I thought it looked cool.

Sometime in my 50s, it began “thinning.” Now, that’s a grim word and I regret all the snide jokes I used to tell my bald friends.

Sample example: I was about to tell you a joke that would make half the hair on your head fall out, but I see you’ve heard it….


I have even briefly considered a wig but most hairpieces are easily detectable, and although they do not show it, I suspect most people are slightly contemptuous of people who wear wigs. 

And the really nice wigs, the ones that could pass off as genuine: those can go for as much as a few thousand bucks. I mean, that’s too steep a price toupee, surely? 

And don’t for a minute, buy all the garbage they say about “growing old gracefully.” It’s just a nice way of saying you’re slowly but surely looking worse. 

My wife still looks great though which brings me to my greatest fear. 

It’s when people start openly asking what she’s doing with such an old man!