Being Right

Don’t believe what they say: 50 is not the new 40. Fifty is just 50. It sucks. Sucky. Just downright pure suckage.

One tries convincing oneself by remembering that George Clooney is in his 50s (58). So is Tom Cruise (57), Robert Downey, Jr. (54), and even Keanu Reeves (55). But so what? They’re gazillionaires who can afford all the medication and physical trainers and therapists to hide the fact they’re well past middle age.

Reading Leslie Weatherhead’s table regarding a person’s age. The theme was what would your age be if your life was just one day. So, if your age is:

15, the time is 10:25 a.m.

20, the time is 11:34 a.m.

25, the time is 12:42 p.m.

30, the time is 1:51 p.m.

35, the time is 3:00 p.m.

40, the time is 4:08 p.m.

45, the time is 5:16 p.m.

50, the time is 6:25 p.m.

55, the time is 7:34 p.m.

60, the time is 8:42 p.m.

65, the time is 9:51 p.m.

70, the time is 11:00 p.m.

I’m at 6:25 p.m., which means that most of my life is behind me. What’s left are the remains of the day. Which is a poetic way of saying it. It’s also stolen from Kashiguro. Mine is more like the remains of the dregs.

The average life expectancy of a Filipino male is 66 years, which means that I have — if am lucky (or unlucky) — 16 years left or 5,840 days. I celebrated my birthday more than a week ago so make that 5,832 days.

Apparently at this age one has most of the freedom to do one wants. But at this age, what’s the point? It’s like finally getting a car, tank filled, spending money in the wallet. But really with nowhere to go. Or nowhere you want to go.

You can finally order in a restaurant without bothering to look at the prices in the menu. But it doesn’t matter because any food that’s delicious will most likely kill you. So the doctor says.

At 50, everything really feels like it’s on borrowed time. Drink wine, you know you’ll pay for it; puff a cigar, you know you’ll answer for it one day.

Going out has no appeal anymore. Not that I have the energy for it. By 9 p.m., I am happily ensconced in my bed, watching cat videos on YouTube. And if I do go out, all I can think of is wanting to go home.

The bars are too loud, cocktail parties are too boring, conferences are inutile. I don’t even understand the music anymore: it’s either all “toog toog toog” or in Korean. Nothing wrong with Korean but I don’t understand the language. Which leaves me with the melody, but as I said, they all sound like “toog toog toog” to me.

Drunken conversations are not as fun as they used to. Nowadays, it’s just a matter of exchanging notes on who’s more miserable with what ailments treated by the more expensive drug. A world away from when talk was about Matchboxes or trading Game and Watches.

Perhaps it’s apt that the recent Oscar winner is the Korean movie Parasite, which has [Spoiler alert! Do not read this sentence. Proceed to next paragraph.] a crazy old man living in the basement. I sympathize with that old man.

Nothing seems worth getting out of the house anymore. Particularly when you have streaming services, food delivery, and two happy dogs.

Depleted energy is a consolation, really. At least one doesn’t have the restlessness to go out and do something idiotic. But it also means not doing the things needing to be done: like retirement planning, organizing one’s own funeral service, or digging one’s own grave. That takes energy. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap.

The incredibly annoying thing about being 50 is that everybody considers you old but apparently not old enough to have a senior citizen’s card. With today’s rising prices, having a 20% discount would be a treat.

And having a 20% discount is the only treat one gets while eating out as the food doesn’t taste as good as before. Is it the cooking or the ingredients? Likely it’s just me as everyone seems happily wolfing their food down. I gain 10 pounds just staring at a picture of a plate of pasta.

Now Jonathan Rauch, citing research, says being 50 makes you wiser and happier. I don’t know about that. Some say it’s probably because you know yourself more. But even likelier is Kyle Smith’s point, which is “you’ve given up on improving yourself.”

“Things they do look awful cold, hope I die before I get old,” said Pete Townsend.

Neil Young’s was better: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

Failing all that, then TS Eliot: “I grow old… I grow old… I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”


Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula