It was an innocuous event. Two strangers passing in a supermarket soup aisle. Me and a tall, 30ish black man. We happened to look at each other. I nodded and smiled. I may have said hello. He
said, “Hi, Pappy.”
I don’t think that man was being mean. His smile was kind enough. And “Pappy” is what we might call a friendly, fatherly type of person, right? But as soon as I realized what he’d called me,
I felt a profound sadness. Was this the way people saw me? As an old man?
I’ll be 62 years old in a couple months. I’m physically active and in the best shape I’ve been in decades. I don’t feel like an old man. But I suppose I am.
It could have been worse. He didn’t call me “Grandpa” or “Old Timer.” So I’m less sad now. Just writing this has improved my mood. But I’m not ready yet to embrace my “Pappy-ness.”
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