Part of growing old is missing one’s youth. But I’ve realized lately that my inner youth isn’t as far away as I thought. In fact, it – he — lies right beneath my skin. And, in fact, we can talk.
So I began envisioning a dialogue between my inner 19 year old and me now, at age 61. Inner-19 would still be living back in 1968; and 61 lives in the present. What would happen, I wondered, if I ever let the two of them encounter each other for the first time and have a real dialogue? It would probably go something like this…
19, upon seeing his older self: Yikes! What happened to you?! Are you dying or something?
61: Very funny.
19: (staring at 61’s wrinkles) But really – how could you let this happen?!
61: Hey – consider the alternative. And can’t you do something about your hair?
19: Can’t you do something about your hair?!
61: I don’t have any hair!
19: No kidding! Maybe that’s why you’re complaining about mine! You can just figure I’m compensating for you beforehand.
61: Hmmm. Makes me wonder about young men today who shave their heads – they may regret it later on.
19: (shocked) You mean, in the future where you live, all the kids are skinheads? Everyone’s a Nazi?
61: Don’t worry about it. And can’t you do something about that army jacket and those patched-up jeans? Why, if I were your age –
19: Wait a minute! You were my age!
61: — If I had gotten a haircut and bought some better clothes, the classy babes I coulda gotten back then!
19: I don’t want those straight bourgeois women! And look at me – I got a gaggle of girls at school rotating through my pad here on E. 11th Street.
19: So tell me, did you completely sell out? Should I off myself now? You cut your hair, went straight. Somebody can look at you now and never suspect where you came from!
61: That’s how I like it.
19: You embarrass me! I’d never want to be seen with you! My friends would all laugh!
61: You embarrass me! I’d never want to be seen with you!
19: Yeah…but you need me now!
61: No – you need me! To get you out of your adolescent muck!
19: There you go, talking like dad.
61: You shoulda listened to him.
19: Yeah, right. I’ll say it again: You need me!
61: For what? Although I could use that younger version of my dick, that’s for sure! Oh, the things I could teach you now about pleasing a woman!
19: I do fine over here, thank you very much. What I may lack in experience I make up for within 10 minutes of finishing.
61: (sighs) Ah, yes: stamina as nostalgia.
19: But you need me for other reasons.
61: For what? To remind me how to run the 50 yard dash?
19: Well…to remind you.
19: What it was like being my age.
61: So I can get all depressed?
19: I’m part of you, man. Right there. But you forget about me.
61: Seems like I’m trying to remember all the time.
19: With sadness, with regrets. But do you remember when you once looked into your eyes in the mirror, and then wrote, “What I thought was the spark of youth, turned out to be the spark of life, and it stayed with me always” — remember writing that?
61: Yeah, but I wrote it when I was 35. How did you know that?
19: Oh, he’s around as well, and sometimes we talk. And he and I want to know: Don’t you ever miss being really exuberant? Exhilarated?
61: I live on a much more even keel nowadays.
19: If you call that living.
61: I like it that way. It has its advantages. I can put my best energies into pursuits that are deeper than riding my hormones and my moods.
19: BOR-RING!!! Please – it’s a beautiful day. Can we at least go out for a walk in the park or something?
61: When I get a minute.
19: You mean – you don’t have a minute?! So you have these nice tranquil seas now, but no time to sail them?
61: Look. I’m in the thick of my life. I’ve bitten off a lot, and I’m busy chewing: My job; my writing; my wife and men’s group and friends; and I’m online a lot…
19: Waiting on a line?
61: On the computer.
19: You have a computer? You work for IBM?
61: It’s a long story.
19: I want to go out and enjoy the day!!
61: I’ve got work to do, and then I want to take a nap.
19: You’re old and slow and scary, and I’m stuck inside of you!
61: Pipe down!
19: HELP! Somebody! I’m trapped inside this dying mammoth! But wait – don’t you have any grass lying around?
61: You mean wheat?
19: Come on! Any acid?!
61: You mean ascorbic?
19: Oh God! Make that a dead mammoth!
(To be continued…)