How you know you’re forty!

While you’re snogging to Purple Rain, watching Ferdi in the garden on Big Brother and
queuing to buy nappies at Woolworths, time is marching on. Next thing you know, you’ll
see fresh-faced cherubs purchasing liquor, someone who must be still a child driving a
Polo… A bearded beast of an MMA guy will recite his ID number at the gym reception
and it’ll start with 940226… People this young can’t possibly be adults! But they are.
And you, sir, you may well be forty. In case you’re too busy on the driving range to be
certain, here are some ways to make sure.

You don’t have a sixpack, and you don’t care
You stopped taking your shirt off in public at the ’05 Oppikoppi. The one where you caught a glimpse of your side reflection in the window of some guy’s Hi-Lux double-cab. That was roughly when the point of going to gym became “avoiding a heart attack” instead of “attracting the attention of a Red Bull promo girl”. Not having a sixpack also
removes the responsibility of having to display it at places like H20, which exist largely for that. These days, the only person who sees your exposed abdomen is a party who asks diplomatically, “Do those jeans still fit you?”

Sportsmen described as “the veteran” are 10 years younger than you
And you find yourself even agitating for them to retire because, “the oke’s too slow
to the breakdown, and our scrums are suffering”. This in between asking the Brazen
Head waiter to please pick your dropped wallet up off the floor for you, because you did
something to your back getting the coffee plunger out of the bottom cupboard.

Kids are dropping oom bombs on you
An incidental, “Skies oom” as the young scamps hurry past you on the moving walkway
at OR is fine. But when a greying, mustachioed man with a boep and a clipboard outside
Spar wonders if he can interest oom in a funeral plan, things have gone too far. I mean,
how old does it look like we are? Forty?

You get to go sit with “the men”
There was a time when an African family gathering meant you and the rest of the young
people gathering in one place to smoke and drink away from the eyes of the grown-ups.
These days, if you attend an umsebenzi, you find yourself seated in the shaded side of
the garden with a bunch of madalas speaking Xhosa so deep you need a submarine to
understand it. At least you get first dibs on the booze.

Music is starting to proper suck
That Janelle Monáe has got some talent and Rihanna and Nicky Minaj are not hard to
look at. But if anyone left you in a room with those guys from One Direction, there
would be slaps issued. And if there’s ever a competition for who wants to burn Dave
Guetta’s fringe off with lighter fluid, you want fifty entries. There is some decent music
stuck away on the back end of the multipipe, on Hypemachine or, but the best
stuff’s on your iTunes. Mbongeni Ngema in his prime! Now that was music!

The world’s getting a bit scary
Maybe you’re losing pluck. In your glory days, you once got picked up by these
Senegalese guys while hitch-hiking from 206 to Melville at night, drunk. They invited
you to a nudie bar in Hillbrow, where you spent the whole of Saturday morning, before
walking, barefoot, to the Troyeville Hotel for a pub lunch. These days you take a longer
route through Sandton to avoid the one robot where the beggars are a bit rude.

You have glory days
The very fact that you have stories to tell about what you got up to some time in the
distant past implies you may be past your prime. As does the way people wince slightly
when you tell them, like they know this one about the roadblock in Greenpoint verbatim.
And the one about the time in your car outside the Purple Turtle, after Nude Girls played,
that you always tell after that.

People are polite to you
The days when you hung out at Ba Pita, where your barman mate could give you sneaky
tequilas? What’d he used to say when you came in? “Yo, dog! How’s the head today?”
with a full shoulder bump! These days it’s, “Afternoon sir. Table for four? Near the
kiddies’ jungle gym?” And you find yourself demanding quality service. “Can we clean
up this table? And maybe get some focaccia?”

Beggars stop asking you for money
Even when you do find yourself at a patrolled robot, you get snubbed. Preying on the
weak as they do, beggars eschew anyone resembling a grumpy hard-arse. Presto, the
minute you turn forty, you’ll find the guys with the empty bags at the traffic light head
straight for the lady with the poodles in the mini SUV.

You took your birth year off your Facebook profile
Just the year, not the date. Because it’s still nice to get all those birthday wishes. But
there’s no need for everyone to know your exact age. And if you ignore it long enough,
hopefully you’ll start forgetting yourself. Unfortunately, 41 messages saying “Happy
belated” and “Have anything special planned?” aren’t guaranteed to prevent depression.

You still have clothes from the last millennium
And you don’t just own them. You’re wearing them! Those Facebook pics of you guys
at St Georges, when Symcox and Donald had that stand? The T-shirt you had on then is
the same one you wore for your monthly gym visit on Tuesday. You might’ve pulled a
rotator cuff. Could probably do with some physio.

If this is you, then by the sounds of things you should go to physio. Those people know
what they’re doing. They’ll be able to conduct a thorough physical analysis and confirm
whether your body is forty years old. But I’m telling you now. It’s not looking good for

Writer for television, print and digital, corporate and editorial. Editor and writer of books. Musical performance, spoken word as Inspector Ras. Guitar/vocals for The Near Misses, (Worst Band In JoburgTM). The last whitey at umsebenzi. Latest book 415 Action-Packed Neighbourhood Marketing Tips with Basil O'Hagan, out now. @hagenengler

(6) Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box