The Great Pretender
by Pseud O'Nym
Maybe it’s just me, but don’t you ever feel that other people seem more grown up than you? That by some kind of unspeakably cruel twist of fate, rather like Harry Potter finding out he was a wizard and setting off to Hogwarts to learn how to unlock his potential, some people have learnt how navigate the various transitions that ageing continually presents us with.
You’ve never felt that?
You’ve never felt that the mysterious ways of the grown up were part of a secret world, not so secret that you didn’t know it existed, but secret enough for you never to be admitted. Never felt that at any second you’d feel a hand on your shoulder and a stern voice saying ‘Come along now. Enough’s enough, you’ve had your fun.’ and you’d have to put the clothes back in the dressing up box. Never felt that other people were just born with dormant grown up gene, and at a certain age it would activate and they’d become better at being a grown up? Like getting married, staying married, buying a house, that sort of thing.
As I’ve always maintained, I’m basically a fourteen old boy trapped in the body of an old man. So the opposite of some priests. See what I mean? No grown up would think to write that, but a deeply immature juvenile might. And that’s how immature I am, that when I go to supermarkets and see mature cheddar cheese, my first thought is always ‘Where’s the immature cheddar then?’ When I say his to friends, they wear a smile that says ‘Just humour him’. Them more grown up people. The sort of people who know what a stopcock is and don’t think it the name you give your Mum when you hear your hear her coming up the stairs when you’re masturbating and suddenly stop.
I was reminded of this yesterday when Joe and Marge had a visit from Marge’s sister-in-law. They had a proper grown up chat about grown up things, the sort of things that in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, only men with mustard yellow cardigans and pipes were allowed to have. But equality being what it is, women can join in.
And then I remembered that before the brain injury, I was quite good at pretending to be grown up. I mean I never for one second thought I was one, but I did do a pretty convincing impersonation of one. People trusted me, they trusted me with really grown up things, things which, if they went wrong would’ve caused loss of life. I know. Fools! After that performance ended, I somehow convinced grown ups who really should’ve known better, that I was the right person to help people cope with the worst experience of their life. Me?
It all seems like it happened to someone else. In point of fact it did. That person is gone, the only thing I have of his are his memories. And that memory of me isn’t shared by many other people now. It’s a bit like an old photograph, faded so much so that only a vague impression remains. If you don’t have a grown up job, don’t talk about grown up things, don’t have grown up hobbies, and don’t dress like a grown up, well other grown ups don’t see you as a grown up.
Instead, they’re the ones who might put a hand on my shoulder and with a stern voice says ‘Come along now. Enough’s enough, you’ve had your fun.’