OK, old people, enough of this physical prowess caper
“I don’t want to alarm you”. That’s what people say whenever they’re about to unload some panic attack-inducing horror on you. It follows, then, that what I’m about to tell you is very alarming indeed. There is something strange and terrifyingly confusing happening in our world.
Two weeks ago, 104-year-old British woman Peggy McAlpine hurled herself off a Cypriot cliff in a bid to reclaim the record she lost to then 101-year-old Mary Hardison some five years ago. She is, once again, the world’s oldest paraglider.
Meanwhile, Chinese grandmother Sun Fengqin, 60, has become became famous for regularly attending pole-dancing classes.
And in March, Indian body-building legend Manohar Aich celebrated his 100th birthday by showing off his (still) impressive guns for global media. Known as the “Pocket Hercules”, he was still able to lift weights until he suffered a minor stroke last year.
At this point, I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. No longer content with sitting in the background, “old people” - as they are known to science - are developing super-human qualities and reaching a new stage of evolution. Time will tell whether they use their newfound powers to save falling children and extinguish infernos, or hurl cars into helicopters to escape capture.
There was a time (in the minds of rude young people) when old people would harmlessly shuffle along with photos of their grandchildren and Elizabeth II in their wallets, mumbling about shortbread biscuits and having rage fits during Burgo’s Catchphrase when contestants missed obvious clues (“It’s 6am and there’s a bird getting a worm!”). Their hobbies were limited to knitting, impeding traffic and longing for the return of corporal punishment for children under 12.
They would sit in their lounges, surrounded by tiny ceramic dogs and fancy plates that never got used, and watch Charlton Heston movies on VHS, ranting about how that “Vincent Diesel” fellow and all those other “modern Hollywood types” are all nothing but a bunch of thugs. Walking at a brisk pace and not losing control of a motor vehicle were considered impressive achievements. At least, that was the myth. But in their selfish pursuit of fulfilling and satisfying lives, old people are shattering that myth and ruining things for the rest of us.
Today, they’re jumping out of planes, lifting unreasonable amounts of weight, running incredible distances and using the Internet to complete basic tasks. Every year, some 87-year-old maniac is raising the bar by performing some inspiring feat.
One minute, they’re whimsically delivering the usual spiel about the stopping and the smelling of the roses. The next, they’re strapping themselves to a bear on a skateboard and breaking land-speed records. By the time people my age are in our eighties, we won’t even be able to look our grandchildren in the eye unless there’s a viral video of us ripping the doors off a Lexus with our bare hands.
For all I know, my own Granny might be in on this giant conspiracy. Sure, she’s sweet enough. She does all the usual old people stuff, such as singing French lullabies at odd times for no particular reason, making faces at food items liked by the vast majority of people and hoarding packets of sugar from cafes. If she’s feeling especially adventurous and rebellious, she’ll maybe toss in a couple of wholemeal breadcrumbs with the seed she puts out for the birds every morning.
But the minute we turn around, she’s probably off pearl diving, fencing at an Olympic level and competing in underground mixed martial arts tournaments beneath the streets of Singapore.
Well, enough’s enough. Time to slow it down, my elderly friends. It’s hard enough to maintain a basic level of fitness as it is right now. There’s no way I’m going to be able to storm through marathons and paraglide off the moon when I’m 90.
So here’s hoping the super-powered, insanely-inspiring old people using our planet as their personal stunt playground will knock it off and stop making the rest of us look incredibly lazy. Some of us, I think you’ll find, are actually looking forward to purchasing tiny ceramic dogs and holding up traffic.
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