I recently caught up with a friend of mine I knew in National Service. 20 years is a long time but we lost no time in getting each other up to speed.
Sure, he is a little pudgier now, and I am no longer that stud with zero body fat and a tan from Basic Military Training but it was like we parted ways only yesterday. We still laughed at the same jokes and we still found the same nonsense funny.
Another mate of mine I knew since childhood is now a Brigadier General. I reconnected with him over Facebook, and caught up with him last year. He too did not change much. Still building military models, still a soldier at heart (he already knew he wanted to be a soldier when I knew him as a kid), still a straight-shooting, no-nonsense chap.
I am enjoying this reconnection with old friends. Life is too short to lose connections and buddies are precious.
My wife is my other buddy. We knew each other since our teens. She has heard all my jokes, seen all my insecurities, put up with all my quirks. And yet we still enjoy hanging out together and no, we are not sticking it out just ‘because of the kids’. We genuinely enjoy each other's company.
We were at a Bob Fitts concert just recently. Bob Fitts is a Christian singer who was very popular during our time. When I say, ‘our time’, I mean the Eighties. I am not saying he is not popular now but even he is aware of the demographics of his fan base when he asked the audience above the age of 40 to give a big shout, then those below 40.
I looked at my wife after giving my big yell to being above 40 and said "Why you never shout ah?"
She gave me a sheepish grin.
To be fair, nobody believes she is that age even. She is blessed with kiddie looks. When she was in Secondary 4, some Primary 3 boys hit on her and when she told them she was way older than them, they declared "No way! You are at most... Primary 6!"
She was most flattered by the attention.
Another time, when she was already a working adult in her late 20s and she asked the bus driver how much the bus fare was, the driver told her to pay 25 cents and reminded her to bring along her bus pass next time.
For me, my body has a way of reminding me how old I am. Sure I exercise to keep myself reasonably fit. I have to. I come from a family that puts on weight just thinking of food. We are not blessed with the Thin Gene at all. But other parts of the body start to slow down, like the eyes.
I used to be able to read small print but now, I find myself pinch-dragging the iPhone screen to make web pages bigger. The dead giveaway is when I tilt my head back to read something. No amount of youthful dressing and exercise can hide that onset of ‘Old Flower Eyes’.
Many of my peers belong to the category of being married late and having children late in life. Friends in their late thirties and even forty are just becoming moms and dads. I don't know how we are all going to keep up with our kids as they grow up. Part of my reason for getting back in shape is being able to kick the football around with my son when he is in his tweens and teens. And having the reflexes to still play digital football with him too.
The nice thing about being still a kid at heart though, is my son is able to share my toys. He is already asking to borrow my Buzz Lightyear I keep in the display cabinet. I am also on top of the toy scene and able to discern which is the better Transformer to get for his birthday present.
Not like a friend of mine, whose dad bought him Oscar Goldman, instead of Steve Austin (no, not Stone Cold, the Bionic one), when he was a kid growing up in the age of the Six Million Dollar Man.
I hope one day I can be like Bob Fitts when I’m 55, and still look fit and tanned, and singing with gusto on stage. But I will settle for having a decent head of hair and still being able to make folks laugh, especially my wife.
mrbrown aka Mr Kin Mun LEE is the accidental author of the popular Singapore website, mrbrown.com, and has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997.
Affectionately known as the Blogfather of Singapore, his readers follow his writings closely, which these days range from current affairs, his family, and even his trips abroad.
Currently, mrbrown also hosts the mrbrown show (mrbrownshow.com), probably Singapore's best known comedy and satire podcast.
mrbrown is married to Ginny, his long-suffering wife for 12 years, and is father to three lovely kids, Faith, Isaac and Joy.