I noticed a strange thing yesterday. I was out having lunch with two old friends. Actually they are “doubly old” – both are 89; and I have known them for a long, long time. One has already turned 89 and the other will turn 89 in a couple of months. At some stage in the non-stop conversation over the food the younger one said something like, “Well I’m 89 years old and I know what I’m talking about!” I looked at him in amazement: he still has a couple of months to go and here he is pushing himself over the 89 year bar? Why? I know that youngsters do this. One of our grandchildren at age 16 would answer the question about his age by saying, “I’ll be 18 in 22 months.”

I guess we all have a thing about our next birthday, no matter what the number is. There’s no counting backward in this game of life… Perhaps grandson’s system works well among the older generation as well. “How old are you, Pop?”

“In 22 months I’ll be 100!”

Sounds right, doesn’t it?

Here in the retirement home, birthdays are celebrated in public. On Friday evenings there is a music program. It is light, usually someone with a guitar or on the piano who sings popular songs (to which every resident sings along or at least hums to). At the last such concert of the month, the list of those residents who celebrated birthdays is read out, each is called up and receives a small gift from the management. In a flash you can see lips moving as the question ripples through the audience “How old?” So, in a matter of seconds, everyone knows how old everyone else is. There are few secrets among the old, it seems.