Family Guy: That settles it, I'm not old, I'm just a bad carbon copy
LIFE hurtles along at a terrifying pace, so fast that even the most furtive glance into the past is like peering out the window of a speeding train.
A sort of grey-green blur with the odd flash of something faintly recognisable, gone before you've a chance to figure out what it was, whether perhaps you were supposed to get off, or where the hell we're going anyway and why are all the bloody toilets always occupied?
A perfect example is yesterday - or whenever it was, who knows at this point - when I sat down at my computer in the morning, reached for my coffee, realised it had gone cold, then looked up to find it was suddenly evening and another entire day had been sucked down the rabbit hole of oblivion.
"Damn it all to hell," is what I concluded philosophically.
"Time only seems to go by faster for you," explained the younger of our two middle teens once, "because your brain is dying."
That he meant my brain, in particular, was implicit. I'm an 'oldie' after all, which is no doubt why he had to explain all this to me in as patronisingly a way as humanly possible.
I recall, only hazily of course as I'm just about brain-dead now by all accounts, that as he turned back to his PlayStation game, I couldn't help but notice how even the back of his head looked sort of smug in a kind of mockingly youthful, self-assured way. And though I'm loathe to admit that I even thought such a thing, for a tiny second, I would have quite liked to have wrenched the controller from his hand, flung it at the wall, then delivered a short, sharp smack across the back of his head.
Instead, I tussled his hair with my fingers, making him grumble and squirm. "Oh... you," is what I said.
As the innumerable days, weeks and months since that invaluable conversation have tumbled away like styrofoam snow under a runaway 18-wheeler, I have actually begun to wonder whether my sage son might just be right; and that a secret camera trained on me throughout my work day might well reveal that I spend inordinate amounts of time staring off into space in a semi-catatonic state, like an old man on a park bench covered in pigeons.
"There's a word for that," says my wife. "It's 'Facebook'. And you have a little bit of drool on your chin."
At a family barbecue, I sidle up to the younger middle one again and he looks up suspiciously from behind an overstuffed hamburger that I am clearly interrupting him in the middle of, mid bite.
"So," I tell him with the air of someone presenting a riddle. "When space travel develops to the point that we can travel far away from the destructive rays of our sun, isn't it possible that we won't age at all?"
He looks at me pityingly. "Here we go," says my wife.
"First off," he says, ignoring his mother, "the sun isn't what ages us.
"Every time the cells that make up our bodies divide, their edges become more and more damaged. You're basically just a bad carbon copy of yourself at this point."
I look at him, look down at my hands, then back to where he's quickly chewing more burger.
"Secondly," he says, narrowing his eyes and grinning, "space travel can't help you. You're middle-aged. By the time they develop anything like that, you'll be long dead."
My wife snorts. Someone else begins a slow applause. "Middle-aged?" is all I can manage.
"How can I possibly be considered middle-aged?" I ask my wife as she bustles around the kitchen on a busy school morning the next day as I flop on a stool nearby in my dressing gown.
"I give up," she sighs. "How?"
"I mean, I barely have any grey," I say, following her around now as she clears up. "I'm not even thinning. When I grow my hair long, it looks like Michael Hutchence's for crying out loud."
The older middle teen shuffles past with toast. "Who's Michael Hutchence?" he says. He doesn't wait for an answer, what he means is that no one in the entire realm of cool could conceivably be interested.
My wife, however, stops and turns to look at me, like she's examining a car door for scratches. "You need a shave," she announces after a moment. "And your sideburns could do with a bit of a trim."
"That's not..." I grumble, stuttering, "You're... I'm..."
"I'm off to the bank," she says over her shoulder, grabbing keys and her bag. "I'll see you later."
As the front door slams I shout after her. "I happen to know all the words to Pretty Vacant!"
The older middle teen shuffles past again. "What the hell is Pretty Vacant?" he mutters.
I watch the back of his head disappear into the kitchen.
"I will kill you all in your sleep," is what I whisper hoarsely after him.