Recently things have swung into view. Swung with all the grace and subtlety of a fairground ride breaking free from its mountings and plummeting to the Earth.
I always wondered why I looked so young for so long. At 30 people thought I was 19. At 38 I was met with blustering rebuttals of my professed age and last year, at 42, I was waiting for a friend in a Rome beauty salon (a female friend, I’d like to add) and when I mentioned my age a voice (from behind the closed door where my pal was being pampered and manicured), her eavesdropping beautician shrieked “NON E VERO!!!”
Flattered as I was to be taken for a younger bloke, the fact that this has recently started to decline, and some “character” is finally appearing in my once cherubic cheeks, has made me realise that my mindset and personality, my hang ups and my insecurities were intrinsically interwoven with how young my face was.
I’ve always used what my barber likes to call “product” on my face. Be it Body Shop or Savers, there’s always something you can rub into your fizzog that can help retain a youthful sheen. Currently I’m settled on Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, mainly because I like smelling of chocolate.
But I digress…
Last week in a dream I was visited by a demon. A fairly friendly demon, despite the green skin, butt nakedness and a tail that looked like some kind of mutant rat’s appendage. In the dream I woke up to find this little bastard sitting on the storage chest, opposite my bed and cleaning his nails. It had pointy, Mr Spock ears and a narrowing face with sharp looking triangular teeth. I’d like to say his breath stank but I never got close enough to find out. As I sat up in bed it looked up from his hand grooming and went:
“Awake then? Good! Time to share a few things. You’ve done this for far too long.”
Puzzled I rubbed my eyes and then refused to ask the next obvious question.
After a pause the demon’s face creased in annoyance and it said, “Well, you’re probably wondering what it is you’ve done for too long aren’t you?”
I just stared at it and said nothing again, inwardly gloating as it blushed in anger (at least I think it was a blush, his face just got a darker shade of green). It glared at me and hissed, “you really are a bastard aren’t you?”
I nodded and succumbing to that lack of a prompter it finally spilled the beans on “what” I had been doing for far too long.
Sitting up straight it crossed his legs (thankfully keeping its hands over its crotch), its forked tongue flicked in and out as it said. “You kept your youth and a young looking face and body. Problem was most people get bored of this by about 35, you’ve carried it on well into your 43rd year. It’s time to wrap things up.”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise and seeing it had my interest it grinned an evil grin and continued.
“You see, you were allowed to retain your youthful, Peter Pan thing, but there was a price. You may have smooth skin and sometimes people think you’re 20 years younger…but emotionally you’re stuck. You’ve never grown up.”
I raised my eyebrows again but, clearly reading my mind, it then said quickly:
“Still want revenge on people who hurt you at school? That was 26 to 34 years ago! Still feel uncomfortable chatting a woman up? Still think sleeping around makes you cool? Still think fighting or being able to makes you a badass? Still wank every night just because you think you should? Still feel crushed if someone unfriends you on Facebook?”
I puzzle on this and the demon grins again. “If you answered yes to more than 2 of those, then you are emotionally stuck, at the price of a crease free visage!”
I nod to concede the point, then I ask, “Why have you come to tell me this? Did I sell my soul to the devil or some shit like that?”
The demon cackled but coughed halfway through, somewhat ruining the evil persona. Recovering it added through a mouthful of phlegm, “No, no, no. You’re not in debt to the Bad ‘Un Downstairs. I work for the Man On The First Floor.”
It nodded with pride at this but I said quickly. “But you’re an ugly cunt, why would heaven employ you!”
The demon glared at me and then snapped, “Cunt eh? Well what else would a prick be talking to?”
I laughed at that and sat up, adjusting a pillow at my back to get comfortable.
Glaring at me some more the demon continued once again. “You feel every woman should fancy you. You try and look tough in public. You believe you’re a fantastic lover. You think being able to fight will make you more popular. You pose your arse off in photos. Tell me I’m lying about any of these things?”
I chew my lip and reply, “You’re not, but what does all that have to do with looking young?”
The demon stood up, I averted my gaze from where its knob would be. I had no desire to see a green penis outside of a morgue. The demon said, while cracking its knuckles, “You retained a youthful demeanour but the price you paid for that is that you are unable to move on emotionally. You’re forever stuck in a 19 year old’s mindset. If you want to have inner peace and emotional stability…then you need to accept age as an inevitable factor. You have to embrace the impending road map that will be etched on your face, not try to avoid it by making your face one massive preservation order.”
I looked at the demon and shrugged. “OK, fair enough. I’d got a bit lonely lately anyway so this might be for the best.”
The demon momentarily gaped at me, and then recovered. “Hmmm, usually not that simple,” it mused. “ Very well, when you wake up you will be a mature man, able to move on and deal with life without constantly panicking that he looks old.”
“Can I still do the things I did before? I mean swearing’s fun sometimes. Farting still makes me feel better now and then, and Facebook is a riot…if you don’t get too attached to it.”
The demon nodded and said, “Do what the fuck you like, just do them with the mindset of a man and not a child.” It stood up and crouched as if ready to jump.
“One more thing!” I said quickly. “What’s your name?”
The demon paused and then said quietly, “Dorian.”
I laughed and Dorian glared at me, hands on his hips looking indignant. I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand and then say, “Sorry but with that ‘look’ I’d have sworn you’d be called Squannablat or Kravatine, something badass.”
“I’m not going to discuss my name with you,” Dorian said quickly. “My time with you is over, someone else can use my services. Farewell.”
And with that he jumped up in the air, clicked his heels together and vanished in a cloud of smoke that made me cough.
Next day I woke up and a few more lines had appeared in my face. I found out 4 days later while having my hair cut that I had my first grey patch, on the back of my head.
Sex still amazes me but no longer feels like an unattainable treat. I started listening to classical music in the kitchen and in the car. I read books instead of surfing the Net.
Maybe I’m actually getting older.