- Faith & Family
While sitting on my bunk minding my own business, from somewhere close by in the dormitory, I heard the voice of another prisoner calling in my direction, “Hey, old school.” He can’t be talking to me. Of course he was. He was just trying to get my attention to let me know that the officer was summoning me to the officer station. After thanking him, it took a few moments for the annoyance of being referred to as “old” to wear off. What I couldn’t get over was the fact that this was the second time a younger person had addressed me a such. That pretty much was the beginning point of my midlife crisis.
At the restless age of 41, it’s not easy for me to view myself as an old man. But according to what I was later told, the term “old school” is used more out of respect and has little to do with age sort of like a hip way of saying Sir or Mister. Thus, it should be accepted as a recognition of maturity, expressed humbly and rarely as an offensive remark.
Yeah, right — whatever you say. So why is it that the more I hear it, the more I’m beginning to construe it as a way to refer to someone who is a prehistoric dinosaur? Why do I always feel as though my vanity is under threat? Probably because, in my mind I’m forever young and would rather for the world to ignore the salt and pepper in my beard. Never mind the wisdom displayed in my demeanor. Don’t pay attention to the precious jewels scattered throughout my speech.
In an effort to layer the true distinctive fully grown me with illusion, some of my current life activities consist of doing what I have always done as a youth: I still exercise vigorously, listen to rap music, flirt with young female staff members and have even increased the number of tattoos on my body. None of this seems to work though — young people still call me old school now more than ever.
Like it or not, I suppose the label is something that I’m going to have to start getting used to. Instead of tussling with such a mundane issue, I’ve decided that it is more important for my life performance and spiritual well-being to be satisfactory enough for me to feel comfortable with myself whenever I look at the man in the mirror.
By Arthur Lee Hall Jr.