Monday, 11 October 2021


There are many ways to reveal one’s age. Our faces say a lot about where we are on the age spectrum. Even if we lather our faces with cream and oils, age has its way of surfacing. Those who have repeated face lifts give themselves away as having grown old by the very tautness of their skin. Women often dye their hair and admittedly that reduces an aged effect, but men don’t easily get away with dyes. Their hair looks jet black, yet their eye lashes and brows, nose hairs, and neck hair give the truth away.

Today, in the subway, a woman tapped me on the shoulder to indicate that a seat had opened up and that I should sit there. I must have looked elderly to her. I thanked her and declined because the next stop was my destination. I will contend that I looked more haggard than usual, grey hair that needs a cut, a mask, eye glasses and a visor added to the appearance of being decrepit. This is how I revealed my age that day.

Another way we reveal our age is when we ‘act out’ something like telephoning. Older people will tend to use their pointer finger to pretend that they are dialing a rotary phone. If typing, they push the carriage back with their right hand. If driving, they might pretend to be rolling down a window. These are all learned behaviors that stayed with us long after the advent of push button phones, computer keyboards and electric car windows. When we unwittingly resort to using the behavior, we reveal something of the generation we are from.

Discounts also give us away. Lots of stores give discounts to seniors. I guess I am at that age and look the part because I automatically get discounts. Sadly, no questions asked. Given a discount, however, is not a tragedy nor an indictment. In many parts of the world cultures, being elderly is honorable and is respected. Besides, there are lots of commercial enterprises and governmental agencies that consider 50-55 on the low side of being old.

A simple way to reveal your age is simply by telling someone. I realize that women in general don’t like to be asked their age, but this is, perhaps, changing. I’ve never understood why asking a woman her age was considered invasive and rude. As I mentioned earlier, this social faux-pas may be dwindling. The only way to find out is to ask women you know how old they are. And, ‘How old so you think I am?’ is as much as saying, ‘don’t ask.’

Revealing one’s age should not be a stigma. This is not to say that we should feel compelled to tell people, but if they ask, just answer. Having an age to report is a natural phenomenon and like it or not, we always have an age. It cannot be helped…time marches on. And as I have tried to explain, we reveal our ages in so many ways outside of an inquiry. Our looks, our gait, our shoulders, our hair, our language, our deportment all give us away.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” (
― Andy Rooney

Published by Thomas

Retired from active priestly ministry in the Catholic Church; former Benedictine monk; francophile; Holocaust researcher; Delta One Million Miler; Ex-Patriated American to the Republic of Panama

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