There are two things which make a difference – the weather and age.
How you feel depends very much on what’s going down with the seasons and the magnetic pull of the whatnot. Ask anyone. Every teacher knows kids go berserk if it’s windy. Policemen are aware they’re going to have their work cut out for them on the night of a full moon. The crazies will be out there howling, the cells will be full and, dammit, there won’t be any Iced Vovos left in the station biscuit tin.
But take a look at age. As the years roll by, you can almost feel your attitude changing. You can hear it clicking over like a tachometer every time you draw breath. I’m reasonably sure I didn’t purposely ram people in the back of the knees with supermarket trolleys 20 years ago, just because they were thick enough to try it on with 11 items in the 8-items-or-less queue. I didn’t swear at hoons in cars who got away from the lights faster than I. Nor did I ever, ever have the bravado to take faulty goods back to the shop. Whatever was going down inside, from outward appearance hardly anybody could tell.
But the older you get, the less you need care what people think. That goes for appearance as well as attitude in general. The time comes when you have every right to look as crazy as a madwoman’s breakfast.
When you’re a teenager, everything matters. You’d never leave the house without checking to make sure you were cool. Nor would you be seen dead in a public place with your mother, who has a perm, a twinset and Bonds Cottontails. It’s absolutely vital you’re part of some kind of tribe.
By the time 40-and-more rolls around, there’s no tribe which will accept you as a member. This is a very liberating thing indeed. It’s therefore possible to fulfill a hankering for wandering blissfully through Food-o-rama in your smelly sheepskin slippers. Without a bra. If anyone looks sideways, you can say, ‘Sod YOU.’ It’s very satisfying altogether. You are now free to be an individual and can choose your own style without having to bow to any convention whatsoever.
Furthermore, you can tell your kids you wouldn’t be seen dead with them. You can say you’re embarrassed about their purple hair, metallic appendages and the fact their bodies have more illustration than the Readers’ Digest World Atlas (Millennium Edition).
You no longer have to live in a ‘family estate’ in a three bedroom brick veneer, drop the kiddies to school in a 4X4 which wouldn’t recognise the bush if you stuck a photograph of Kakadu on the pristine windscreen, or light up the barbeque every Sunday afternoon and invite the crappy neighbours around with their disgusting organic potato salad.
You are now free to be naff as hell. You can let the garden go to pot (literally) and drive around in a weird old car they don’t make parts for anymore. You can stay in the same underwear for months. When kids start throwing rocks on your roof and insinuating you’re batty, you can peer out of the window and say, ‘Sod YOU.’
You will find for the first time in your life you are honestly and truly happy. Your sink is full of dirty dishes, you’ve read War and Peace cover to cover and people are staying away from you in droves. Your humpy is full of cats and cockroaches, your unmade bed is full of library books and half-chewed Sara Lee danishes in foil pie pans and you’re feeling extremely frivolous indeed. What the hell – treat yourself to a couple of ferrets!
Age means never having to say you’re one of the crowd again. Never having to keep up with the Jones’s, or the Smiths, or even Kerry Packer. You can choose your friends because you genuinely like them – not because they belong to the right network.
Feel free to get out there in the darkness on the next full moon with the rest of the crazies, doin’ what feels right! Whoooaaaa!
I’ll be out there in my smelly sheepskin slippers with my ferrets running up and down around my vile undergarments. And count on it – we’ll all be howling …