How to relate to old people; A handy guide for those of you who aren’t old… yet…

I guess I am old. I don’t feel old, or feel like I even look that old, but I might be considered old by some of you young whippersnappers. Tonight, my wife and I are taking her uncle out for dinner. Now, he is old, by almost any standard, other than that of a Galapagos tortoise or maybe a redwood tree.

While I was in the shower… hey, don’t judge me, I do some of my best thinking in there… I came up with a plan. And I am going to share it with you. Because that is what I do here: share stuff.

Whatever age you are, you have to interact with old people, at least occasionally. Whether they are a relative or an acquaintance or  even a stranger, here is what I suggest you try doing:

Ask them about themselves… but not in that vapid, annoying way that we talk to each other at most gatherings. Don’t ask what they are up to now, or have been up to recently. Don’t ask what they did for work, or about their kids. (And for heaven’s sake, don’t ask them about their friends… most of them are dead now)!!!

Ask them about what they were like, and what they were doing, when they were YOUR AGE! (Okay, this might be specifically aimed at teenagers, and there might not be any of them here, so ask them about themselves when they were teenagers.)

Ask about the music they listened to.

Ask about what they were rebelling against.

Ask them about the coolest car they ever owned, and about the haircut they had that drove their parents crazy, and the fashions that were in… uh… fashion.

Ask them about the times they got into trouble.

This is a good idea, even though I had it. Not only will you learn some interesting things about the old person you are talking to, but it will be stuff you can relate to. Maybe Grandma got caught once, making out with some hooligan in the back seat of a stolen car. Hey, you don’t know. I bet you never asked. Maybe that old guy next door used to run with a biker gang. Maybe your uncle once streaked naked through his high school graduation.

Hey, I’m not saying that all old people are interesting. Most of them probably aren’t. But I am. If you asked me that stuff, your head would melt with the stories I could tell you… which I don’t share here, because… you know… family-friendly blog and all that.

Give it a try. Who knows what you might learn… because we, the old people, were all young once… and some of us used to do some crazy shit.

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About pouringmyartout

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8 Responses to How to relate to old people; A handy guide for those of you who aren’t old… yet…

  1. At 50-something I consider myself slightly passed middle-age, but know full well I have more years behind me than ahead. I think the best thing people can do with older relatives and friends is to sit them down with a camera or some kind of recording device and let them tell stories of their lives from long ago. I’m glad I did that with my father before he died 2 years ago and with my mother before her memory worsened.

    Everyone has a story, and the most intriguing stories don’t necessarily happen to famous people.

  2. As a person who could be considered old by some and young by some, I really enjoyed this post, Art. I used to think people in their 60s were old, but now that I’m 66, I think of old as being at least late 80s. Although there are exceptions, of course. My mother-in-law, who just turned 90, lives in senior housing and constantly complains about being around “all those old people.” I can only hope when I reach 90, I can still think of myself as young.

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