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Older Men, Younger Men - Part 1

Two Sundays ago (July 7), I was on a business trip, which allowed me to start this reflection.   Originally, this article had a different story.  Although the original title was retained, my subconscious mind just flowed like a stream and I thought I ought to give myself one more time to reflect upon myself after my Baguio Vignettes; to challenge myself and draw a closure on something I have not dealt with for the past years.  I hope for your continued indulgence to my personal reflections.  And it is my prayer that somehow, I would still be able to touch your heart and tickle your mind…and perhaps empathize with me.
Reflections on a mirror

Last Saturday (July 6), I went to the gym to resume my workouts for the nth time.  The weather last month took its toll and left me with severe colds and cough, which prevented me from working out.  Feeling better this month, I told myself I have to resume my workouts to get back in shape and redeem my money’s worth.  Anyway, last Saturday was my best workout day since I transferred to my new gym last January.  Why?  Because I have finally talked to someone other than the instructor and those at the front desk, and that is Aaron.  After my warm up, I did some stretches and went to the seated chest press machine instead of the bench press because I just intended to recondition my body otherwise I would get sick again.  While lifting the weights (or pushing, rather), he also finished his bike and did stretches as well, and he did it right infront of me.  He was such a tease that he even bent right before my eyes and sticked his butt out!  Of course I could not help but look at his butt!  This time, I thought this young man was on it, so I looked at him in the eyes and he did the same.  Hmmm…game!, I thought.  I also tried to be nonchalant about his cuteness and I acted as if there is nothing sinister about why I looked at him that way and I proceeded to exercise all my body parts (except that part, smile..). From time to time, which I could not help, we would again accidentally look at each other.  I know I like to look at him because I almost adore his youthful looks, but I do not know why he also seemed interested in exchanging glances.  Everything went on as usual until I had to exercise my biceps.

I was already done with my concentrated curls and had to do some preacher curls, but I found out he was using the preacher bar, so I asked him, if I could alternate with him.  He was accommodating but I had no intention of talking to him, or he might misinterpret me, but he initiated the conversation.  He asked me how long I have been working out because he seemed to notice my muscles flexing while I lifted weights, and asked if he could have some muscles within 3 months. So, what else would I do? Just like any concerned gym buddy, I gave him some tips on how to do his workout.  And I was amused at myself, because that was the reason why he seemed to be interested in me.  Akala ko pa naman.  Sayang.  Me and my imagination! Anyway, when he offered a handshake and introduced himself, I also gave some bits of information about me.  (And sayang again I was wearing gloves!). His gesture accommodated me, once more, to ask some information about him. He finished HRM, and jobless. Though I forgot to ask his age. 

Then his turn to ask me:  “Kayo po, san ang work ninyo.”  Deep inside me, this young man is okay.  He is very respectful.  But hey, isn’t that insulting?!  Bastos yung batang yun a!  Sumama tuloy ang loob ko.  And suddenly I asked myself, Do I really look someone old enough for a young man to address me as PO?  HU HU HU HU HU HU HU…….Nakakasama ng loob. Goodness, I am only 35 and do I really look old?  Do I really deserve a ‘po’? Suddenly, while sitting waiting for my turn to use the preacher curl, I looked at the mirror…and in my mind…mirror, mirror on the wall, who says I already look old?

Baka bukambibig lang niya ang mag-opo.  So I lingered for a while.  Instead of doing only 2 sets each for the rest of my body parts, I increased it to 3, with heavier weights and longer rest periods in between reps just so I could be with this cute guy even just for a while.  Now I suffer from muscular pain because of my kalandian. So, while having dinner with my lady officemate last Sunday, I seriously asked, “Honestly, do I look like I am 35?” She seemed to be amused with my question and asked why.  I told her I was just interested and refocused her attention to my request for her honest opinion.  She said that I look like I am only 30.  I smiled and seemed contended with her reply.  If that was any consolation…Well, happy na rin ako.  And I would now understand why that 20-something guy would address me with “po.” 

Indeed, I am getting old.  And I admit that. 

It is not easy to be getting older or becoming more physically mature (if I may say it less acrimoniously).  If there is something like a period of “storm and stress” in adolescence, I believe that being 35-ish is its second wave.  Why?  An adolescent is experiencing confusions, hormonal problems, and other ‘growing up’ problems.  It is my conjecture that men in their early 30s or mid-30s, do also have these. And when you meet younger men like Aaron, it just gives you that uncomfortable feeling, which, in a way, is depressing.  Many would not certainly agree, that is why I emphasize that these are only my hypotheses. 

There are times that we refuse to grow old or let go of our Peter Pans.  Sometimes, we feel that being 35-ish makes you feel so much pressure because your family, your colleagues, and your community expect you to become really more mature and accept greater responsibility in life, while you would still prefer to do things younger people would love doing.  In a more practical setting, I already find it disappointing or even feel sick and tired of going to a department store to shop for my wardrobe.  In what department store could you find a wardrobe for men in their 30s?  We are forced to choose between teen’s wear and those clothes that are also worn by older men? And we are left to choose those that are trendy but not too preppy or look for colors, fabric, and prints that do not make us feel older than how we look.

One of my favorite authors, Earnest Tan, who is a psychologist, lecturer, counselor, retreat master, and a friend to many people, gave me some insight about getting old.  He said in his book, “Perhaps, one of the tragedies in life is for a person to grow old with a lot of regrets.  The only legacy that one could bequeath is bitterness and cynicism.

Did I ever regret about getting old?  Sometimes.  Did I become bitter and cynical about getting older?  Sometimes.  Hence, my life is a tragedy?

Feeling better?  I guess.  And I might, as well, give more meaning to my life—giving life to my life.  And I would always treasure of going back and recall my good and bad memories, which are, after all, part of my life.

Going back at my encounter with Aaron, I would say it was quite an experience.

What I thought to be a kinky encounter turned out to be a journey inside me, instead.  If the mirror infront of us at the gym was made to reflect images, Aaron became one to reflect who I am and what I ought to do with my life from here on. 

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