R. Kelly once wrote the lyrics: "Age ain't nothing but a number."
I'm pretty sure he meant it in some kind of perverted way, but I've always found the sentiment to be true, just the same.
There are those who are "old" in their 20s.
The minute they turn drinking age they start in with the Eeyore impressions — "Oh, woe is me." They start looking for the wrinkles and gray hair.
I want to shake those people.
Usually, I just quote Kelly.
Me, I've never really felt my age. Maybe it's because I skipped on the typical American rites of passages. I got my driver's license at 25, not 16. I went to prom (twice, actually) but not while I was in high school. I lived at home with my parents (off and on) until I was in my 20s (and for a month or so in my 30s). I didn't get puke-drunk on my 21st birthday, and I've made it through my mid-30s unmarried and without a child or mortgage, although I now have a car payment for the first time in my life.
There are times I have to remind myself just how old I am. Other times — last week, for example — life does it for me.
-- I'm in the bathroom at a restaurant and in the mirror I get a good look at the exact amount of gray that's in my hair. This happens anytime I'm in a bathroom with decent lighting, really.
I don't mind. My hairline is holding up and the salt-and-pepper look works for men. It's distinguished, I'm told. Sorry, ladies. It's a terrible double standard, really.
Anyway, it's the white hair popping up on my arms (and ears and nose) that worries me.
-- I wake up with a terrible kink in my neck. It wasn't there when I went to bed. The only thing I can figure is that I slept on it wrong, though written out like that, it sounds ridiculous.
Sleeping, in general, has changed for me.
-- I've never been much of a night owl, but by virtue of priorities my schedule has shifted from late nights toward early mornings.
The 1 a.m. rock show at Tokyo Garden doesn't quite come off like it used to, especially when I need to be up at 6 a.m. to catch an early aikido class.
I'm in the car and Rage Against the Machine comes on classic rock radio. The band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its landmark self-titled album (with a reissued double CD, no less). From a technical standpoint, it's a classic.
It's also very much of my generation.
This wasn't the first time I'd heard RATM on the station, but sandwiched there between Journey and ZZ Top, it suddenly had new meaning.
My generation is getting older.
I use older here without the negative connotations. My dad is 68 and there is a real possibly that he could live another 20 years. One in four 65-year-olds will live past age 90, and one in 10 will live past age 95, according to the Social Security Administration.
In that context, the word "old" loses its bite. I could barley be through the first third of my life. At 35, I certainly don't feel old, but I am beginning to feel my age.
This columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6479, firstname.lastname@example.org or @joshuatehee on Instagram and Twitter.