The sensitivity to age
Now, as you all know, I'll be the first to chime in and laugh along with any sort of joke, whether it be sexist, racist, bigot, whatever stereotypical joke, the point is, it's just a joke and people need to learn to laugh at things...right? Anyway, the point is, it's not a joke or funny when people are discriminatory for real.
There are some who don't like black people, others are color blind; some don't like jews, others give out free hugs..I'm a pretty tolerant person, I'm understanding, I judge a person by what they make of themselves, not the characteristics that make them - i.e. they can't control what color they are, what height they are, etc.
I'd say one of the biggest factors I've turned a blind eye to is age. A person's age never mattered as to who they really were. I had to teach that lesson again today.
This afternoon I decided to make an early pass to the gym, I had a double workout schedule since I was absent most of the week, so I knew I needed more time. Bored with running on a treadmill - people hate when you try talking to them while you're running next to them - I decided to play a little basketball. I was the only one on the court for a little while until someone else walked in and went to the other hoop. After a few minutes of shooting around I yelled out to the other person if they wanted to play a little one-on-one. The other person was a little standoffish at first and hesitantly declined. I chuckled at the timid response and asked why not to which he replied that I looked a little older. Shocked at that answer I went into a rant, per usual, and it went something like this...
Older?! Well, sure..what are you in like highschool or something then? it doesn't matter..age doesn't define a person but on paper..it doesn't make me any better than you in basketball, it doesn't make you any less skilled than myself...i don't play on any college or pro level team, and i'm sure there's plenty of varsity highschoolers that could beat me..we are about the same size so there's no height advantage either way, so really, there's no immediate advantage either way..it's skill versus skill, nothing more, nothing less...
After that he was convinced and we played. While we played I continued to tell him the story of how I grew up in the southside of Chicago, during the Jordan era..when basketball was the only sport that was played. I had a basketball hoop right in the cul-de-sac behind my house, my buddies had basketball hoops set up in their driveway, basketball was played.
My best friend growing up, Tad, and I were a dynamic duo...when we played we were Jordan and Pippen. We played two-on-two like it was our job..sadly enough though, if you were to add any more people to the team the magic would kinda lose itself - that's why we could never enter the Three-on-three Gus Macker tournaments..but when there's limited amount of people you make due with what you have.
We played and would challenge our friends to try and beat us..we would see people walking down the street and we would ask them to play. Now the thing about growing up where I did, let me explain...we played during the day on the driveways, but right before dusk, a little bit before the streetlights went on, we played on the cul-de-sac....you see, the cul-de-sac was where everyone met up and played..and when I mean everyone, i mean, anyone...it was like moving up to the big leagues because that's where the older kids met up and played.
This is where I learned two lessons...One, this is where I learned it didn't matter the age of someone, it was whatever - even though some of those kids smoked, I wasn't influenced by them..even though they swore, that's not where I picked it up from..the fact that they were older had no bearing onto me..they were just people, we came together and we did our own things, together...the neighborhood was diverse, people were scarce, so any age was an appropriate age to hang out with..if someone wanted to ball, then so be it...
Sometimes we could get a 5-on-5 game going (which was awkward because this location only had one hoop) and sometimes the games consisted of less people. When the numbers were low, Tad and I stepped in to play 2-on-2 games with the older kids. This was the second lesson I learned, though it sounds like the first - and it kinda is- age didn't matter...Tad and I both liked to win, me being and only child, and Tad being a sore loser we were a perfect pair. We played our little hearts out, we wanted to win. It didn't matter if they were older, taller, whatever the case..we played, because that's what we were there to do.
Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost..when we lost we didn't use an excuse that it was because they were older or whatever, as pissed as we were, we knew were just weren't good enough, and had to play again...when we did win it was an accomplishment because everyone made it out to be a David versus Goliath situation..and we were excited because our skill showed through.
It's because I grew up in that neighborhood where at the age of 13 I was playing with twenty year olds down to five year olds made me who I am today. Where age was just a number that nobody cared about. Maybe our parents didn't want us hanging out with the older kids or whatever, but it happened, and I held onto the same morals and values I was raised with...it didn't make me a bad person to be around them, they were people too.
This trait has carried with me to today. At work I have a varying age of those around me...and I will hang out with them after work..some are 18, some are in their thirties, and I'm still me. I've dated girls both younger and older, however, the only relationships that ever get mentioned or noted are the ones with a girl that is 'drastically' younger..i emphasize the drastic because in all reality, it's not and people like to make mountains out of molehills...people tend to forget the girls that were a couple years younger than me or years older...people also tend to forget the statistic that shows men date, marry, whatever younger women...and how am I to blame in all this?
Whatever. Age is a number that gives us the permission to vote, drink, become president...age doesn't define the person you are, tell anything about your personality, or say when you are going to die..it's just a number...
and you're more than that.
"..and if i said i only dated girls born on Fridays, I'D be the a-hole..."