A day or two ago, I was shopping in Zara’s with the intention of buying myself a shirt. Lost among a forest of women’s garments, I saw the men’s department through an archway and headed straight for it.
As I neared the archway, a rather haggard old gentleman came out of the male section. I noticed that he hadn’t purchased anything, that he was rather shabbily dressed, was probably suffering from some arthritic problem as he was a little hunched, and definitely needed a haircut.
I smiled at him as we drew closer. He smiled back. Then we went through that extraordinary dance which normally takes place on narrow pavements. I stepped to my right, he stepped to his left, I stepped to my left and he stepped to his right and we both smiled at our stupidity. Then he stepped forward at the same time as I did and we smacked head on into each other, both our foreheads taking most of the impact.
‘I’m terribly sorry,’ said I with an apologetic smile, rubbing my nose as he rubbed his, and a woman behind him...and behind me...collapsed with laughter.
The old man was myself, of course. I had crashed into a full length mirror.
Though my birth certificate insists that I was born at the end of 1930, I am forty two years old. Sometimes I believe I am twenty five, a number of close relatives treat me as though I were six. I am not particularly concerned about how old I am except when I come face to face with myself in unexpected mirrors and suffer a deep trauma on meeting the individual I have become. The relentless development of one’s outer casing, it seems, is not a bit concerned about the sensitivity of the inner self..