It’s The Other Guy Over There

Compared to some, 71 years old is incredibly young. But I find it strange how people far younger than me work so hard at making me older than I am. Let me give you three examples.

First there is Jasmine. I help her with her swimming. She’s English, is in her early 20s and has been in New Zealand for a couple of years. In every way you would call her a modern, with-it product of the 21st century. Phrases like independent, a mind of her own, even opinionated come to mind when you think of Jasmine. Certainly there is nothing from the 1950s about Jasmine.

It came as a surprise therefore when she asked me why I always drank coffee after training. Why, she asked, didn’t I drink tea?

I explained to her, as I am about to explain to you, that I have always prided my coffee drinking background. From the years spent hidden behind a Benson & Hedges smokescreen in the Victoria University’s Fritz’s Café – named after the guy who owned the franchise – drinking instant coffee and debating whether the All Blacks should tour South Africa, coffee has always been sophisticated, tea always for old people. Tea is what my grandparents drank in the church hall every Sunday. Tea is what my father cooked up in a Thermos over a fire on picnics down by the river. Tea was Victorian and, not that I knew, probably disgusting. Certainly a double shot of coffee was the beverage of choice, the beverage needed to stimulate a thoughtful discussion of the world’s political problems.

For sixty years I lived sure and confident in the value of coffee and without warning my values were being attacked by a twenty year old telling me to drink tea. I was, I thought, being forced to be old before my time. I asked Eyad for his advice. He said drinking tea was fine. I asked my wife. She’s younger than me. She agreed with Jasmine and Eyad. I asked my daughter, Jane. She said I was being silly.

In desperation I agreed to sample one cup of green tea at the Millennium Pool’s Wholefood Café. I was surprised. It was refreshing. Not as heavy as coffee and just as stimulating. And so every day, after training, I now drink green tea. I’m told it has become the “modern” thing to do.

My second example involves the general election. I understand that a question asking whether marijuana should be legalised is going to be included on the ballot paper. I, of course, will be voting for its legalisation. Not that I have any interest in smoking the stuff. In fact I am probably one of the few members of my generation who can hand-on-heart say, I have never had a puff of marijuana. That is the result of never having anyone offer me a joint rather than any personal stand on principle.

My vote will be for legalisation because of the personal freedom involved. Those that enjoy a joint should be allowed to puff away in peace without being haunted by the prospect of spending six months in prison. For too long police and court resources have spent far too much time and money trying to prevent a relatively harmless activity. In my opinion when it comes to marijuana the whole world needs to chill; needs to sit down quietly and have a smoke.

I thought I would get support for my enlightened views by consulting Eyad and several of the nurses in the North Shore Hospital clinic I visit. They are all in their mid-twenties. Without question they would agree with my enlightened views. Oh, how wrong can you be? They were horrified. How could I vote for marijuana? Didn’t I know it was the slippery slope that leads to opium and other hard drugs? Wasn’t I aware of the savage results it had on young children? Battered and bruised I changed the subject. How was it I thought that I was 71 and thought I sounded like 21 and these 21 year olds sounded like they were 71? I haven’t figured that out yet bit I’m still going to vote yes for legalisation. Just don’t tell Eyad or the Apollo Clinic nurses.

My final example involves a television program. The programs a person watches on television can tell you much about their personality and age. Considerable study has been conducted, especially in the USA, in order to target political advertisements at selected population groups.

American reports tell me that TV shows offer marketers key insights into personality. For instance, very modest people are more likely to watch the blue-collar hero shows while altruistic people tend to prefer cooking shows and reality shows with happy endings.

Personality determines what we consume, what TV shows we watch, what products we buy, and all the other decisions we make — political choices, for example.

I am told that if you’re a fan of competition based shows, like Dancing With The Stars, Survivor, The Bachelor, or Biggest Loser, you probably have a bit of a competitive streak that you’ve yet to discover and all you really want to do is win, win, win.

Watching daytime talk shows like Dr Phil, or even tabloid programs like Maury or Jerry Springer Show, could signal that you are tuned into others and really enjoy listening to people’s problems — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sorry, I’d love to tell you about which show is my personal favourite. I know you will be interested to learn what my favourite guilty pleasure TV show says about me. It may be deeply telling. It way explain the problems I have with Swimming New Zealand.

But it is going to have to wait for my next post. You see, “Coronation Street” is about to start.

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