How I learned to stop worrying and love the downward spiral

After being braced by the slip of the coolest kid from school, I’ve decided to let myself go and enjoy the downward spiral.



One thing you’ve probably already come to know: ageing can be a harsh mistress. Yesterday’s leaders become today’s followers and vice versa. Each five-year block can be a real game changer.

A few weeks ago I began typing to an old female school friend online and within minutes we really got to hitting it off. As time flew by we reminisced about year 7 onwards. There was much laughter had over the usual cliché incidents; with the nachos; and that time I drove our hippy maths teacher (who by default usually had the cool, calm and collected disposition of a pacifist) into a fit of blind rage, seeing red as he shouted across the playing field, “Chris!! Put down that trundle wheel now or I’ll jump on your face!”, his bottom lip visibly quivering with fury as the words exploded out in a bizarre hybrid Irish accent in front of an entire demountable classroom of stunned students.

My friend responded to this with a full line of laughing emoticons.

We were having a great time belly laughing away at the good old days, as you do when you’re now in your early 30s. She said to me, “Hey remember Matt M?”, a reference to the coolest kid in year 12. How could I forget? He was the token king of the HSC years; always with the prettiest of girls by his side. “You’re gonna love this,” she typed as she sent me four photo attachments. I typed out the curious question, “A fall from grace?” She giggled, inferring toward the bloodbath I was about to wade through.

The first image was how I remembered him. Fresh out of high school. Think Brad Pitt in the movie Troy or a cartoon-like image of Hercules with flowing sun-bleached locks, washboard abs and the tightest buns on this side of the Olympus. The second image was a few years down the track. A less than ordinary looking guy with that male pattern baldness happening which oddly resembled the McDonald’s golden arches. He had the kind of hairline that would stop random toddlers in the street and make them yelp with joy as they begged him for a Happy Meal. In the third image, his hairline was like water being drawn back before a tsunami.

Only, after much anticipation the tsunami never came. Leaving a small, Phil Collins-style circle patch at the front, it was like a tiny island. An island of shame, with two lonely wisps that had managed to defy amazing odds, dangling out of it like withered palm trees. And if that wasn’t enough, he’d started to develop an obvious pot belly. By the fourth image, I was done. I felt ill. I let out a slow groan. I was basically staring at an image of an obese Gary Sweet.

The years had not been kind. I felt a sense of empathy so strong that it put me in a state of anguish. I was like an 80-year-old who had just fractured his hip crashing into the corner of a coffee table. There were no more queen bees for this guy, just a forsaken soul embracing the solitude in an ordinary fucked up state of grace. This could be me at any random year from this point on. Clearly entertained by my nausea, she enthusiastically showed me a few more of my forgotten classmates’ maturing hairlines for further scrutiny and closer examinations. “It’s like you girls are on hairline patrol or something,” I said to her, to which she told me to get off my high horse, and, “As if you guys aren’t on fatty patrol.”

Some trade off that is.

In the ageing process, teenagers come to hate you. Your favourite music? Well…like Jack Black would say, “It’s sad old bastard music.” Clothing? Forget it. That treasured button up shirt of yours is about as “in” as David Beckham’s metrosexual faux hawk. That’s right, a faux hawk. Let that sink in for a moment. Some readers will see that and think, “Hey, I wore that hairstyle; who does this a-hole think he is?”.

I can comfortably tell you that you were a misguided lost soul and in hindsight, you should agree and it really isn’t open for debate.

When you tell that older guy you work with that his Billabong shirt and white jeans are probably no longer a great idea, you’ll have a 23-year-old under you wondering why you haven’t run with the no socks with shin-high mustard designer chinos getup. It never ends.

It’s time to take solace in the fact that everyone else your age is enduring the same gradual slide into mental and physical atrophy. Enjoy this moment. And if you can’t, stay away from the youth who currently are.

Toss out that bottle of Rogaine; embrace wrinkles and cellulite.



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