Older Than I Look – the story behind the song

‘Older Than I Look’ (subtitled ‘Younger Than I Feel’) is one song that is not based on a true story. It’s based on observation and experience distilled into a coherent tele-play narrative.

‘Older’ is a kind of ‘fish-out-of -water’ story. It’s the story of an older ‘fish’ who is slowly realizing that the water has changed and he is expected to change as well.

I presented the story in a series of vignettes which illustrate the quandary that the narrator and his unnamed friend find themselves living in a world of ‘Me, Too’ and gender fluidity.

The first indication that the narrator is out of step with the times is in the opening vignette and his reference to ‘a pretty little thing’. Such archaic, disrespectful terminology is frowned upon as dismissive, dehumanizing and misogynic – as well it should be.  The narrator, a member of an earlier generation, is oblivious to his social faux pas.

According to the decorum of an older generation, however, a polite gentleman was expected to tip his hat and offer greeting to women he encountered. The narrator shows that he is stuck in an earlier time.  Those cordial gestures – once seen as essential courtesies – are misunderstood and even resented by a generation who has never experienced those courtesies. The young woman in question, whom the narrator sees strolling on the street, is taken aback and questions his intentions if not his sanity.

The next episode takes place in a small restaurant (an eatery) where the narrator is a frequent patron. He, once more, is confronted by a member of a younger generation who is working as a wait staff. He greets her with what he considers an appropriate manner ‘Howdy, Hon’, which goes over like a lead balloon with the ‘20-something waitress’ who reacts with a pique the narrator does not expect. She goes on to read him the riot act heaping approbation on his glib, sexist demeanor.

More than a bit exasperated, he explains that he simply wants to place his order and intended no sexual innuendo or untoward implication; ‘I tell you this, I’m older than I look and younger than I feel’. He then gives her his order of the blandest of foods; Farina, broth, dry toast and – in an attempt at wry humor – an  order of  ‘Metamucil’, a dietary supplement used to insure regularity of bowels.

Next, the narrator’s friend joins him for lunch and commiseration. The ‘oldest friend’ whinges about his age and wistfully reminisces about their younger days. The narrator – obviously the wiser of the two –reminds him scoffingly that they had done ‘stupid shit’ in their youth. The friend then, in response, flips the title phrase on its head by saying ‘I’m younger than I look and older than I feel’ implying that he has lots of vim and vigor housed in a rather ravaged exterior.

The old friend then cracks an off-color joke about feeling like an ’18-year-old… maybe two’ – meaning two young sex partners – clearly inferring that he hasn’t yet learned, as an old fish, how to navigate the new social waters.

Older Than I Look, Younger Than I feel
DC Rapier ©2018

So, I’m strolling down the street the other day
A pretty little thing comes walking my way
I tip my hat ‘n’ say ‘Howdee do?’
She eyeballs me as if to say ‘Dad, what’s got into you?’ 

I smile ‘n’ shrug ‘n’ shake it off; I got someplace to be
Gonna meet a friend of mine at a local eatery.
I slide into the corner booth; check the specials of the day
When a 20-something waitress traipses over with her tray

(Here she comes now, traipsing…)

I say ‘Howdy, Hon! You’re new here. Won’tcha tell me what’s your name?’
She puts down her tray, cocks her head ‘n’ sneers “I don’t play that game.
Why, you’re old enough to be my dad. You oughta be ashamed.
I got a good mind to slap your face.” Yeah, she was that inflamed.

I throw up my hands, say “Ho-ho-hold it there. No need to be so rude.
I ain’t trying to make a play. I just wanna get some food.
Since you’re new, you might not know I’ve been coming here for years.
And all that time, I’ve been watching myself grow old in the shaving mirror.

I’ll tell you this: I’m older than I look but I’m younger than I feel.

Right now, I feel like some Farina; a cup of broth; some dry toast, Metamucil…”

Right then, my oldest friend comes in and he’s looking rather glum.
He says, “Y’know what I really miss the most ‘bout being young n dumb?”
I say “Tell me, son; might it be all the stupid shit we done?”
“Well, there is that, my friend, but you gotta admit it was lotsa fun!

But now; I’m younger than I look but I’m older than I feel

Right now, I feel like an 18-year-old; maybe two; one blonde, an’ …
Yeah, I know. Dream on, old man. Dream on…”

 

 

 

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