Satirical Semite: Bring On The Wrinkles

I’ve decided that it’s finally time to start lying about how old I am.
December 17, 2020
Photo by Ljupco/Getty Images

It is my birthday this weekend, and I’ve decided that it’s finally time to start lying about how old I am. From this day on, I will tell people that I am 15 years older than my true age.

The plan is brilliant. Let’s say I turned 30, which is technically true because I did once turn 30. If I told people I was really 45, they would be very impressed and respond, “that’s incredible! You look like you’re only 30. Amazing.”

“Turning” older doesn’t sound good. Fruit turns and becomes moldy, although you can somewhat preserve its freshness by coating it in an acidic liquid. Therefore, my birthday party will consist of sitting in a bathtub full of juice from 400 freshly-squeezed oranges.

When I first visited California in 2008, I taught drama to college students at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI) in Simi Valley. One 18-year old asked me how old I was. I was in my thirties, but I told him, “I’m 57, but I’ve had a lot of plastic surgery.” “Really?” he asked, “you look great.” That was the first time I learned that English irony is occasionally lost with native Angelenos. (To clarify, by “occasionally,” I am being ironic.)

Maybe I should just tear off the band-aid of inevitable aging and actively make myself look older. I’ll start smoking 60 cigarettes a day to weaken my complexion and then find a surgeon who can insert some wrinkles on my forehead, loosen the skin beneath my eyes and remove all of the hair follicles from the crown of my head to create a massive bald spot.

Another great way to look older is to increase stress levels, staying in the fight-or-flight mode. This can be achieved by drinking 10 cups of coffee each day, which should deplete the adrenals that regulate my immune system and my ability to cope with stress. I can also increase worrying by listening to news broadcasts nonstop and getting into regular fights on Facebook by changing my political leanings on a daily basis.

Leaving too little time for important appointments will also increase stress and premature aging, and this activity can be beautifully accelerated in Los Angeles if you schedule all of your activities so that you have to drive across town during rush hour. Come to think of it, scheduling any activities across town should also do the trick.

There are moments in Jewish tradition where people wanted to look older. According to the Rabbis, Abraham “demanded old age” from God because he looked young like his son Isaac, and it was fitting for the father to get respect instead of the son (Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 65:9). On Passover, we read about Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, whose hair turned white overnight at age 18 because he had just become the head of the court in Jerusalem, and white hair gave him gravitas. Having the appearance of an old man also matched his inner wisdom (Talmud, Brachot 28a). That’s settled then. I’ll head to Supercuts and book an appointment to get my hair dyed white.

One great thing about birthdays is the very privilege of having one.

One great thing about birthdays is the very privilege of having one. 2020 has been a rollercoaster, where so many of us know people who have died from COVID-19 and will not get another birthday. It may not be fun hosting a birthday party via Zoom or looking in the mirror and seeing that things are changing, but it is better than the alternative.

Three years ago, on Christmas, I nearly saw the end of birthdays. I was dressed as Santa Claus and accompanied by a friend as we handed out gifts to homeless people on Skid Row. We called it “Santa Mitzvah,” and the intention was to bring some joy to some of the 30,000 people living on the streets a mere 11 miles from Beverly Hills.

When I got back to the car, a man said he had been “protecting” my vehicle and that he was a former marine. He asked if I had anything for him and lifted his shirt to reveal a gun tucked in his belt. I explained we’d just given out all of our cash but gave him a couple of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste that were left over from the Santa gift bags. He let us enter our car but then stood in front of my car, possibly ready to shoot us. I smiled and waved. He smiled back, revealing bright white teeth, and stepped aside. Hopefully, the toothbrushes came in handy.

Children love turning older because they get to stay up later or get more pocket money, and teenagers love it because it’s one step nearer to leaving high school and being able to buy alcohol. The only downside of growing older in Los Angeles is singles events, which you cannot attend after the age of 39. That settles it. If you want to get me a birthday present, I’d like a fake ID to change my birth year to 1999 and a roll of duct tape to pull back my face.

Marcus J Freed is an actor & filmmaker. www.marcusjfreed.com and on social @marcusjfreed

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