Two Saturdays ago, fed up with my Ringo Starr impersonation, I decided to get a hair cut. On a grey afternoon, the Barber at the Wooden Bridge in Dollymount was particularly busy. I wasn’t in a hurry and sat happily reading the Red Tops (there’s a lot of intrigue in Coronation Street at the moment) and listening to the football commentary on radio. As the other punters were shorn, I edged to the top of the bench.
Great Chat: We chatted away happily about the World Cup in Qatar (playing in 400 centigrade can’t be much fun), the Barbers’ favourite team (Ipswich Town) and his babysitting arrangements for the evening. On a secret mission to improve my listening and to practice ‘unconditional positive regard’, I was congratulating myself on staying fully focused – despite the fact that I know absolutely nothing about soccer. Task completed, we walked over to the till and I asked:
“What’s the damage” to which he replied:
“Ah well, you’re on the pension now. Just gimme €8”.
In a state of utter shock, I gave him a tenner and descended the stairs unsteadily, all the while muttering “stupid bo****ks”!
The Downsides: When I got home, the kids thought it was hilarious and slagged me mercilessly (those who live by the sword and all that). Linda used the moment to remind me of some forgotten New Year resolutions. Yeh! Kick a man when he’s down. If she keeps it up I’m going to hide her anti-aging cream.
The Upsides: I did save about €5. But here’s the bonus. I am getting old and it’s great (I’m 56). Why? Because I’m not as impulsive as I used to be. I’ve also stopped trying to impress people (most of the time) which is a ton of relief. Being focused on other people means that you don’t have to ‘top’ their stories with ‘better’ war stories of your own which gets tiring! And, without sounding too arrogant, the sweetest part of it all is that I kind of like this older version of myself. This “I’m OK” admission (the stuff by psychologist Dr Eric Beirne’s is worth reading) has taken some time. Closer to home, William Butler Yeats captured this well in the memorable phrase: “Peace comes dropping slow”.
So if you see a stout, slightly balding guy walking along the Clontarf seafront, openly laughing, just pop over and say hello. Because, in the scale of world tragedies, there are worse things in life than getting old – even if it’s not easy to be rudely reminded of it.
By the way, the Barber told me he’s normally quieter in the mornings. Might help you avoid the rush when you’re booking your next appointment.
PS: I see that Ipswich Town were beaten 3-2 by Preston in their recent match. That’s a pity!
PPS Lighter Note: Guy goes into a bar and orders a pint of Guinness. Barman says: “It’s on the house. Bloke down there bought it for you”. The customer asks: “Which Guy?” and the barman replies: “Guy down there at the end of the bar, the one with the beard. Says he was in your class”. Customer replies: “There was no-guy with a beard in my class”.
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