You Know You Are Old When...
Ouch, the worst roast imaginable
Alison MacPherson was the sexiest girl in my school.
One time, I saw her sitting by herself in the school canteen. I took my spaghetti bolognese, wandered across, and sat down beside her.
I was a year older, a sixth form prefect. Full of confidence, self-assurance, bravado and hormones.
"Would you like to go on a date?" I asked.
She looked me in the eye, paused for a moment, thinking…
"Not if you were the last person on earth."
I wasn't so confident after that. It took me a while to get over it, 30 years actually.
As the years passed, the sting of her rejection faded but didn't disappear.
I went to university, studied and thought about Alison a lot. I got a job and still thought about Alison. I met another girl and thought a little less about Alison. Life takes over.
I got married and stopped thinking about Alison altogether - nearly. I had kids, and I only thought about Alison when I saw someone who looked like her. Those eyes, the hair, her freckled nose.
Alison, with her gamine figure, long brown hair, and her heart-melting smile disappeared from my psyche. Life became full and fantastic. I had friends and family. Forays to Fuertaventura, France and Forfar.
Life was good.
The Fateful Day
Of all the beer joints in Edinburgh, she had to walk into mine.
Decades later, on a night out with my mates in the capital, I was enjoying the beer and banter when she entered. Alison stood in a halo of light at the doorway. I hadn't seen her since I'd left school.
I didn't recognise her at first. She'd aged - and not in a good way. Oh my goodness! She looked old. Not fat, but not slim anymore.
The long hair had gone, replaced by a short grey bob. Lines on her forehead as if someone had used a marker pen to highlight her puffy eyes.
There I was, looking trim and feeling fitter than I'd ever been, thanks to my daily walks with my dog and twice-weekly visits to the gym.
Alison hadn't fared so well. Did I mention she looked old? I mean, her neck looked as wrinkled as a scrotum.
We'd been drinking. My tongue loosened by the alcohol and the general feeling of camaraderie. I felt secure. I made the mistake of mentioning Alison to my drinking buddies.
Gawking, gloating, and schadenfreude are not my best character traits.
My table of mates watched as Alison and her friend made their way to the bar, ordered drinks, and sat at the far side of the pub.
About ten minutes later, Alison got up from her seat and made her way to the toilet, passing by our table. I nodded, but there was no eye contact.
"Are you sure it is the same girl?" Bill asked.
"Yes, of course. I remember her well. I asked her out on a date, for goodness' sake."
"From the way she ignored you, I don't think she recognised you."
I put it to the back of my mind.
Then Alison came out of the toilet and as she passed our table, to my utter embarrassment, Bill caught her attention.
"Excuse me," he said.
"Am I right in saying that you went to Alloa Academy?"
"Yes, that's right, why?"
"Well, this man here," Bill pointed his finger at me, "was at Alloa Academy at the same time as you."
This is when you know you're old.
Alison looked at me, her face cracked a polite smile.
"I'm sorry, I'm not sure I recognise you, - what did you teach?"