On Youth and Age

“But I guess I’m getting too old for them to be interested in my opinion,” Mrs. Bowman concluded.

“A child born in this country has a reasonable chance of living to be eighty years old,” said Mr. Magundi. “He will spend the first twenty-one of those years being too young—too young to live independently, too young to drink alcohol, too young to make decisions for himself. At twenty-one he becomes a full adult, with all the privileges thereunto appertaining. At twenty-nine he realizes that he is almost thirty, and begins morbid reflections on his own mortality; and when he turns thirty his friends give him a party with black candles on the cake and a big “Over the Hill” banner on the wall, and after that he is too old. So of his eighty years on this earth, he will spend exactly eight, or ten per cent, being the right age. The other ninety per cent of his life is spent being the wrong age. I could write any number of elaborate satires on the mores of our twenty-first century, and yet none of them would be as biting or as ridiculous as the simple statement I’ve just made to you, which your own experience will confirm is absolutely true.”

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One thought on “On Youth and Age

  1. Which force in society determines what the “right age” is? If it’s the glamour magazines and movies, then yes, between 21 and 29. Employers, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. I cannot consider 25 or 26 to be part of the right age, since my employer continually tells me that I am young and inexperienced, and therefore not entitled to an opinion on anything. I imagine it would not go down well if I reminded him that I have been an adult for a few years already and this is not my first job, and that the fact that his children are older than me speaks more to his being old than to my being a child. But perhaps that is childish of me to think so.

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