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Friday, October 29, 2010

Reality check 2

A couple of nights ago, I got quite a shock. We went to the pub for dinner, and Tracey pointed out to me that this was the first time she, Christian and I had done this, just us, since before I fell ill. A year ago, to be precise, since we had eaten out together.

One of the things I noticed was that even the pubs have fallen under the Masterchef spell. Instead of the usual mountain of food, piled high and everywhere on the plate, there was an amount about half the size, plated up and presented Masterchef style. Now I’m not complaining about that because I usually got more than I needed in the old days, and ate it anyway, whereas this amount was just about perfect for a main course. The price was about 30% higher, though, and I suppose the smaller main course encourages a foray into the dessert area, so the Masterchef strategy isn’t a bad one for the coffers of the pub restaurant.

We didn’t have dessert, as it happens – not a pub one anyway. We decided to raid the new ice-cream bar at the 7/11 for a little treat, and eat it with a coffee at home, a short way away.

That’s what this is about, not the meal at the pub, novelty though it was for us. We went into the deli, to choose our ice-cream. Yes, I know about avoiding angiogenesis promoting food, but just this once was relying on the Avastin to counter the effect on its own.

Anyway, in the deli, I noticed this guy. He was about my height - a bit shorter maybe, though his face was fuller than mine, flabbier definitely, and I would say about 7 or 8 years older than I. His hair was much thinner than mine, and in the light in the café, it looked almost as if he were completely bald. His face had that look about it that said, yes, the road's been a bit rocky lately. I felt sympathy for him.

I moved to go to the ice-cream counter and was shocked to discover this old chap moved at exactly the same time. I then realised I had been looking in the wall mirror behind the shop counter, and who the old bloke was.

I haven’t been looking in the mirror much these days. Maybe I better, a bit more often, for a true reality check.


  1. I always get a shock when I'm wearing my contact lenses and look in the mirror. Without them, the slightly blurred version of my face looks much like it always did...a bit older of course but not too many wrinkles and lines. Then - warcrime! - I pop in my lenses and this old wrinklie stares back at me. I've also had that sad experience of catching a glimpse in a shop window of this fat old broad and realising it's me!

  2. Also, your story reminds me of dining recently at the Palazzo Versace at Southport. The only 6 Star restaurant that I've ever been in - and it'll be the last! My "starter" course, all $28, was six minute, wafer thin slices of venison on a very large white plate, with some beautifully arranged bits of greenery to one side. My $42 main course was six equally minuscule pieces of Moreton Bay bug on a similarly large plate with some pale sauce drizzled over them and another piece of tastefully arranged herbage. Vegetables were $10 extra a serve - very small serves, too! I didn't dare have a pud! The champagne we drank was $75 A GLASS!!!! Needless to say, I wasn't paying! Good job Bob wasn't there - he deplores this sort of pretentious cuisine. Service wasn't all that good either. I agree with you - whatever happened to good old pub grub? It's all up in price and down in value! Good job our local Indian restaurant still offers good value at modest prices!

  3. I didn't see that old guy you are talking about.

    I just saw the same 'my darling' that I've always seen.

  4. My Tracey - that's because for reasons I'll never understand you seem always seem to accept me as I am, even in frustrated rage when I can't open the ziplocked cheese packet with one hand, like this morning! That acceptance goes double, of course, except I DO know the reasons why I love you. But enough of that soppy stuff! Not good for my tough guy reputation.

    Julie - thanks for the tip about where not to go in Southport! I don't mind paying plenty for a dinner I couldn't have made at home [when I had two hands to work with] and walked away with my stomach and palate satisfied, but for that sort of money I would be wanting a lot more than you got! Pretentious is bad: and if you think it's pretentious instead of special, then it is.
    As to self-perception, that's a very interesting one. In the last few years I have done a great deal of videoing of people, and often they are shocked by how they look on the screen. Am I really that fat/old/wrinkled? The bad news is, yes, you really are. The good news is that while we fool ourselves as to how we imagine we look, the people who care about us do actually see us as we are in that movie, and still love us just the same! Oh, and I know all too well about that 'shop-window' effect - it's brutal - but honest.

  5. Denis, you actually look pretty good. Yes, your face has puffed up a little bit with the drugs, and yes, your lovely hair is gone. But you have a glow about you that I never saw before. Must be all that sleep, or the lack of wine, or maybe just not marking piles of essays. Or perhaps your encounters with the angels over the last year.

    I think the problem with our self image is that inside we don't feel much different than we did at age 20. The mirror, though, has a different story to tell. Decades of living and the last few of entropy tell the world that we are elders of our tribe. Problem is the advertising companies don't make money telling us we have lots of character. They want us to buy ageing cream, diet magazines, excercise machines, plastic surgery, liposuction -- the list goes on.

    When I was in Turkey, I visited the house of a friend I'd made. The woman showed me how to put on a headscarf properly and then stepped back and said, "Now you look like an old woman." It was a compliment!!!!

  6. That's a great story! A society that equates age with wisdom isn't all bad.... :) Actually, Turkey is a great place, as much as I saw of it, which was only enough to make me want to stay longer.
    As long as you are healthy, your age makes very little difference. The week I got the rude introduction to being unhealthy, we had been playing an hour's squash a day 3 days a week. I find it so galling to struggle out of the car, to look for a rail to go up stairs, to shuffle along when things aren't going well. I find it sad that people make themselves miserable because they look their age, yet are otherwise healthy. Vanity and ego... our society is built on both.


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