There are many different ways in which society shows respect towards the elderly. I’m not referring to hiding dentures or changing the year on their calendar. Even though it was hilarious. I’m talking about gestures of respect that are unique to specific cultures.
Down here in Africa, Afrikaans people have been taught to address the elderly with “Oom” (male form) or “Tannie” (female form). It’s roughly translated into “Uncle” and “Aunt”. But it’s not only used for drunk relatives you want avoid at a family reunion. It’s also used when addressing a geriatric.
And that’s a very disrespectful, shitty gesture.
It was a Wednesday morning. Most people were still smelling their partner’s farts under a duvet. He was up and ready. His playlist consisted of eighties rock tunes. His t-shirt proudly displayed his best intentions: Train. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. He was there for one purpose and one purpose only, to annihilate his workout. To kill kilojoules. And therefore we will call him ‘The Destroyer’.
He said “Hi” to a couple on the way to the row of benches. He tends to avoid most people because his personality doesn’t function properly that early in the day. Two guys were using the bench next to the one he was eyeing.
They were first timers but no strangers to weight training. One had a beard that would make Thor envious. The other wore a t-shirt three sizes too small. The Destroyer decided to act civil and asked if he can take occupation of the bench next to the one they were using. Young Gandalf had an open face and smiled a perfect smile; before he replied:
“Ja seker Oom, ons gebruik hom nie. Oom kan hom vat.”
Google translated this reply as:
'Yes Uncle, we do not use him . Uncle can take him . "
(And don’t worry, they weren’t using anyone, they simply referred to the bench. It’s not that kind of a gym. Evidently Google Translate doesn’t give a shit about pronouns.)
Gandalf, the Immature Asshole, had the audacity to call
me the Destroyer old. Not once, but twice. The Destroyer glared at them in shock. He was dumbstruck and couldn’t think of a reply. He did the mature thing, dropped his bag with a loud ‘thud’ and stormed off to the weight rack.
How old does these idiots think
I am? he is?
A disheartened, shocked Destroyer looked at the display of weights and couldn’t decide which one to use in breaking the perfect jaw of the-idiot-who-doesn’t-know-any-better. He settled on one of the lighter weights as he didn’t want to hurt himself, and was ready to wipe the beard right of the smug, young face. The Destroyer, who looks nothing like other men of the same age, returned to his bench. The Chris-Evans-wannabe showed pearly whites again. The Destroyer told him to “f*ck off.”
(No he didn’t. Relax. Even though he really wanted too.)
You know that scene from Pretty Woman where Vivian gets solicited by the lawyer after he found out she was actually a prostitute? And remember how uncomfortable and upset she was because she wasn’t mentally prepared for the confrontation in that specific surrounding? Well, that is exactly how The Destroyer felt.
Around his kids and their friends he expects to be called out for being older. It comes with the territory. He demands their respect with his tall, masculine, age-defying, strong build and grey-ish hair.
He certainly didn’t expect a young, wrinkle-less version of Santa Clause to call him out for being old. Especially considering it happened in a place where he was actively trying to fight the signs of aging.
But in the end he is just a man. Albeit an older one. He did what any other man would do, in order to save him some dignity. It seemed like a logical decision at the time. He wanted to show Beard-what’s-his-face and his Freak-friend that he wasn’t as old as they thought he was. He went heavier on the weights. Well, heavier than he normally would.
The problem with his “logical thinking” was that the over-excursion of last week is still the root cause of him battling to walk today. Due to the fact that he still cannot lift his arms, he’s been chewing gum for the last week and the five day stubble makes him look like a refugee.
The irony is that if those two inconsiderate bastards saw him now, they would probably guess him to be twenty years older than the last time they saw him. And being the good-natured, decent, young people they were, they would have offered to help
me him down the stairs of the gym.
The Destroyer, who doesn’t feel like a destroyer at all, tried to relay his emotional distress to his Wife. The love of his life, his soulmate, his biggest supporter, the mother of his children… And she laughed hysterically!
I think the only words she could muster was:
“My love…but you are old.”