How I Got To Be The Oldman,
My chronological age is pretty irrelevant, for more than one reason. I first began my blog with the intent of not discussing my internal life not because there was something very interesting or damning to hide but simply because I didn't want it to get in the way. That's been the problem in my life it always get's in the way.
It is quite normal for people to want to get to "know each other" in a more innocent sense. It has a lot to do with what I'm talking about.
As I will share however unfortunately the atypical and abnormal type of psyche I possess makes this sort of thing very difficult and almost absurd. People try to judge me by what they think they know about me, and it can get them into big trouble. It probably doesn't help that I'm a social mimic and therefore personality assessments can create a conflicting impression that unfortunately can lead to misunderstandings.
Often the inadvertant discovery also ends genuine attempts at relationships.
Let me back up a bit and discuss the rationale for this and why I have for so long lived my life alone.
People assume that there are certain things that are true about all people. This is not a conscious assumption. People are wired to act in a certain way. These are not ideal. They are simply practical inbuilt instincts of social mammals. They practice and assume various things like empathy, conscience however twisted, a general pattern of subjective aging, etc.
Well those things aren't true about me. I wish they were. I'm about to discuss something that is pretty private to me. Everyone has their little quirks and this is mine.
When I was very young I used to hang out with old people. My parents were concerned that I was not playing with all the other little kids so they took me to a certified psychiatrist. He ran some tests and observed me. He had several conclusions which since I was observing him at the time, I can vouch for their accuracy.
The first is that I had at that young age already the completely developed mind of an adult insofar as maturity, foresight, relative experience, discipline, etc. That's why I'd been hanging around the nursing home. I was naturally gravitating toward my social peer group.
The second was that I was very smart and furthermore that I instinctively saw the darker and more cynical motives of human life. Third I effectively had no sense of guilt, no conscience, and was effectively as remorseless as a sociopath. Like most sociopaths I had an advanced ability for social mimicry that would later let me fit in with just about any cultural or social group I involved myself in. Finally, my primary problem seemed that all of these things had a great deal of difficulty socializing with people on a level of intimacy because I was not what they expected and it was very difficult for myself to be intimate with others when they were always assuming things about me that were not true.
He had some further advice which basically meant encouraging me to socialize with my own chronological age group.
Since I have lived several decades from the time of that evaluation, I can say quite unfortunately the good doctor was correct. It's more than just a psychological trick thing. My adult attitudes and foresight allowed me to pull and conduct some very advanced capers even as a child. These "adventures" as we can call them then gave me more experience. Which I then turned into more adventures to get more experience. Most of them done for the sheer hell of the experience.
Moreoever this wasn't some simple shrink babble. I wish it were. One thing that became apparent is that no matter how much I tried pretending to be part of my age group that I knew how to get things done and understood issues far above my age. I've been called a lot of things. Old soul. Heartless bastard. Wise. Wicked. etc. People would seek me out for advice, for help, for a comforting shoulder. Frankly it was embaressing. How would you like to be worried about whether or not you were going to go to prom and have some adult with grey hair break down and babble to you their sorrows? Most of the time I told them how to fix their silly problem and went back to be pretending to be part of my age peer group.
Let me define "pretending". I do not pretend that I have feelings for others that I do not. Most of the time this is not necessary as I only develop feelings for others after a very long and continuous exposure and even then I generally don't express them well. I don't "pretend" in the sense that I lie about my background. By pretending I mean that I try to fit in as much as I can and simply allow others to think what they want while not fully explaining when I act outside of the normal boundaries of that type.
So by "pretending" what I really mean is that I don't try to rock the boat about other people's expectations, allow them to think of me as a "type" they are familiar with, and don't disabuse them of their usually wrong interpretations of my behavior. Usually the explaination is in line with a "type" they think I am belonging to. This is not malicious deception. I do not cheat anyone. I certainly don't go out of my way to take advantage of anyone. Nor do I fail to repay back sooner or later people benefiting me.
I just mean that I let them think what they want, because the alternative is an incredibly awkward and clumsy explaination that most people couldn't "get" anyway. This is just a convenience. I as I will discuss below the fact is that I am rather not equipped with the sort of maliscious desire to deceive and manipulate others that some sad persons have. What wouldn't they get?
Because of the little quirk of my background, I am already subjectively older than most people will ever live with the attendent experience and skills of that long life.
My parents, good but simple people, that they were didn't fully understand what the pschiatrist was explaining to them though I did. They didn't understand for instance that there are a whole range of psychological and neurological abnormalities that can occur. One of them is the run of the mill sociopath. Another is the rather retarded Austistic child. Another rather rarer is the autistic savant. A less severe condition is that of the Asperger's syndrome which generally makes the sufferers socially clumsy but at least independently functional and sometimes gives them savant like abilities. Some have usually pretty harmless obsessive or compulsive disorders associated with their gifts.
I am none of these things. However my clinically diagnosed condition gives me some features similar to each of them. This is not completely undocumented in the literature, just a little variation on the basic psychological and neurological abnormalities. My obssession is the collection, analysis, and application of information.
Please don't think of me as a monster. If I have no conscience, then I have no pent up issues either to take out on others. If I sometimes lack empathy, I also lack the interest in hurting others. I have no wounded child to take out on others. I have no adolescent juvenile insecurity or rage to manifest itself in aggressive projection. I have no impulsive sadistic instincts that give me pleasure in hurting others. Most of the time it just means I see things objectively, not as they should be but just as they are. No conscience so no ideals, no ideals and no truly deep religious beliefs, and then you have no ideologies to confuse the thinking.
Most of the time I am more honorable and more trustworthy than other people can usually achieve because of this. This is simply because it doesn't occur to me to break my deals. Nor is it really logical to break them because of a belief. I intend something. I do something. I carry it out. The thought of betrayal is relatively foreign to me though I am good at spotting those who have no intention of keeping their word. While some people think beliefs are good, the majority of beliefs are prejudicial. For instance some people believe that it's wrong to kill babies but okay to kill adults without appropriate legal representation. To me that's insane. Either you should be completely pacificistic, or accept the doctrine that it is due process and social justice that is the important issue and not life or death.
Likewise abortions bother me, but generally because the women who I have known who had abortions seemed conflicted. Part of them wanted to keep the baby, and part of them didn't. And my thinking was well if they didn't want the baby why did they voluntarily put themselves in a situation that they could become pregnant?
Of course human relationships are just more complicated than what my rather simplistic and logical black and white emotional spectrum allows. I logically recognize that and take that into account. However logically knowing it and "grokking" it are two different things. To me it's as if the person is insane.
That's what I mean by being without conscience or empathy. I just mean I am incapable of fully understanding the complex motives of real personal emotional difficulties. I am great at understanding strategic conflict or tactical or logistical problems and solving them quickly. Those are logical. I have a hard time understanding murky and confused but very human motivations that lead people to do some very strange things. While I have no emotional hesitation at killing, I have ever rational and logical objection to needless or pointless death. It is not death or suffering that bothers me, but waste and irrationality.
Sometimes there are very good reasons for wanting somebody dead. Osama bin Ladin and his buddies are a good example. They are your enemies. Kill them if you can. Other stuff isn't so logical however in war like invading Iraq. Even from the point of view of "Blood for Oil" it was a bloody stupid idea. It was completely illogical how they tried to invade for oil but didn't set themselves up to win.
What is very bad however and usually ends badly however is when someone tries to dominate, bully, play cat and mouse with me, or otherwise use aggression on me. I have no conscience. There I have no hestitation in utterly bringing down, humiliating, or inflicting massive pain on those that attempt in any way to hurt me. Unfortunately there are criminal types, petty and white collar, as well as bullies or just those with superiority complexes in life. What they don't understand is that I don't care about their games. When they dance with me they dance with the devil, because I have not the slightest hesitation about destroying someone trying to hurt me.
It's a documented issue with Asperger's syndrome kids, though as I said I do not suffer from that exact syndrome. They find that these kids have a hard time using limited or refrained violence. Smack them on the cheek, they may go for the throat. For me too, there is a difficulty in discerning the difference between someone trying to intimidate me and someone trying to kill me. So I go for the throat. Since most people are too nice to try to beat me up, it usually doesn't come up in my normal life. Thankfully.
Part of my social mimicry which is quite instinctive is that I tend to treat others the way they treat me only I try to do it better. You trust me, I'll trust you. You help me, I'll help you. You try to hurt me or sell me out, I'll ... yeah. It's not voluntary. I don't sit down and think of it as the golden rule. It just happens. Faster than I can think about it.
For the vast majority of people who are quite decent, they do quite well by me. It never occurred to them to try to burn me. Therefore they never found out that I had another side.
So oddly enough lacking a conscience and being a mimic rather than having empathy made me more trustworthy than the average person. Why should I betray my own agreements? I am not afraid of any person. I am not afraid to take the consequences of my choices. I do not blame others for my problems. I do not attempt to weasel out of things because I feel differently.
But I do have doubts and angst and inner turmoil. Just not about all the usual kinds of stuff people have. What I want is to really learn how to fall in love with someone. Odd isn't it? I've lived this long and never been able to become intimate enough to fall in love with someone else. Dallied, flirted, whatever, sure. But not the real thing. Not the simple act of just bonding deeply with someone you care about and really knows you.
Women have described me while talking with me as dealing with a brick wall. They throw something at me, and it bounces back or is reflected. It's very frustrating for them because they want to break through to the "real me". That's the social mimicry at work. However the real me is I think afraid of rejection. Deep down I guess I've always been afraid of letting down the walls and letting someone else really know me deeply enough to fall in love with me - or I with them. Ladies are very good at discerning when you're holding out on them I'm afraid.
That simple thing that people take for granted, the ability to fall in love, has been my whole life denied to me.
So that's how I got to be The Oldman. My parents never shared the results of the diagnosis with others but they didn't have to. People just started noting that when I thought others weren't looking I would act like a rather crotchety and grumpy old man. With my natural advanced subjective age I was able to carry out all sorts of crazy adventures. These gave me more experience, which I used to pull off even crazier capers. Even while trying to avoid it, I became known as wise and very knowledgeable. Adults much older than me came for me for advice or put me in charge of organizing things.
So that's how I got the nickname. They just started calling me that in sort of jest and it stuck. I am the oldman. Always have been. Even though I'm chronologically older now I am still troubled by the same problems. I have experience I can't put on a CV. I have troubles fitting in with normal job descriptions which frankly bore me to death. I have never as yet fallen in love with someone and they with me. And frankly that's what
Odd isn't it? So that's why my chronological age even now that I'm starting to get white hairs is irrelevant. I am already in some ways older than most people here will ever live to be. Some days I feel it too especially with the injuries I've gotten on my crazier adventures. On the other hand, on levels of basic intimacy and getting close to others I'm less sophisticated than a teenager. It's not physical experience that I lack, it's emotional experience.
Which is what the good doctor pointed out when he diagnosed me those many years ago now. When later I sought out the help of an excellent clinical psychologist this was pretty much his eventual advice as well. I just need to learn how to personally relate to people. That is my weakness. And the inability to do it screws up the rest of my social life, because I have to pretend to be something other than I am which is great at first but is limiting because if you don't open up and let people know you they will generally trust you only so far.
Which is why I'm writing this. Larry, my psychologist and later friend, would approve since it means I'm finally starting to let the walls down.
To summarize I have a clinically diagnosed psychological abnormality. The principle affect of this psychological abnormality was to predispose me toward the attitudes and later the learning curve of a person of advanced age - highly knowledgeable, highly experienced, and highly disciplined. This resulted in others treating me quite properly as someone much older than I was. It however also interfered with my normal age peer group socializations so in some ways I'm not as emotionally experienced as your average teenager.
It's not that I can't get women to like me. For whatever reason, women do like me or at least enough of them do. One said it had to do with my confidence. However it's opening up that I lack for. Over the last few years I've been taking the advice my psychologist and living a quiet life instead of getting mixed up in adventures. I agree with him that these have mostly proven distractions from my ultimate insecurity.
This insecurity doesn't stem from my job or social recognition or whatever. My condition makes me either imperviously and relentlessly self-confident. It's actually a bad thing because sometimes I take on really big projects that are much more difficult than they appear. And it's bad because I have a hard time finding normal work. Not because of my employers or mentors, but because I have a hard time accepting working according to other's scehdules. Social recognition isn't important to me much, but I do wish I could find a way to harness my talents to help those who employ me now better. But it's hard because they don't really know me and I don't really know what they want. That's why I like deals. They're spelled out in exact details what the expectations are. Then I just focus on fulfilling those expectations. It's not their fault it's just a misunderstanding. If I work with someone I need a very clear idea of what they want or my attention tends to drift off.
It is oddly enough the thought of genuinely opening up to someone that scares me. The old what if they don't like me for me type thing?
I mean what am I inside but a rather heartless and grumpy old man afterall? Not the sort of thing your average woman expects to find in a body like mine when it opens up.
A woman once wrote something I think rather profound. She's married but in an open marriage. She was writing about all the sad middle-aged men she ran into, who loved their wives but weren't sleeping with them because they couldn't communicate. It's the "talking" part of the relationship that is hard for me. It's even hard for me to really communicate with my family. For me to "talk" would require me to act like I truly was, which would and when it has slipped out, has been very upsetting for them.
No parent likes to be treated like a child and put in their place, especially if they are acting like a child and the person putting them in their place is their 5 year old kid. The human mind isn't meant to deal with stuff like that. And yes I did. Most of the time I was content to play the role of their child. However when they got of line too far I put them in their place. Pretty devastating for a grown adult to get faced down by their preteen kid and told how and why they've screwed up and how to fix it and that they had better not screw up like that again next time.
So if someone wants to make fun of me, please at least give me the dignity of making fun of who I truly am. If I am sad or pathetic in any way, it is that in the end I am just a lonely old man who lives by himself and only has his old war stories to tell. That is pretty awful enough as it is and it has the virute of being true.
And the truth is that I would rather have people make fun of me than have anyone give me pity. One thing I do not lack for is pride. Pride has always been my downfall.
But I am not writing this out of self-pity, just a candid recognition of who and what I am. Embracing it has been difficult. Nosce te ipsum Know thyself. Then be true to thyself. Such simple words. Such a great challege.
Right now I would settle for a job, but I don't want a job based on me looking for it. I want what other people have - what I see happening to others like my younger female relative. I want to be able to be myself, accepted for it, and sought for work based on that.
It's not about just a job for me. What this is about is me trying to take down that wall. It's about me trying to accept myself for what I am, and finding a place a destiny a path in this world based not on how well I can fit in to someone else's idea of what I should be but who I have always been. Which is just like that old duffer down the street playing chess in the park. Heck I was playing chess with him or someone like him at the same age most people were learning to read and write.
Oldman in a not quite old yet body is what I am. I am over the hill now chronologically which helps. The older I get physically the actually easier it becomes for me. But that's what I want I really really want: a chance at a life based not on how well I can calculate other peoples reactions and adjust to them (which is very fast and very well) but a life based on relationships with people who know me.
It may sound strange but as they say the grass is greener on the otherside of the fence. Most people want or at least admit they need maturity because that's what they don't have. On the other hand they have intimacy. Which I don't have. So that's what I want - relationships and intimacy - not just with a woman which would be nice but a life based on a web of people knowing me and me knowing them. As for this other stuff, this whole information collection and analysis I'm good at it - probably better than most people can ever become. It's that whole savant thing. So sure I could make money on it. But more than that I want not praise, not fame, but simple acknowledgement. As in yes this is who you really are and this is what you do just so I can stop pretending. I'm pretty tired of that. It can be fun but in the end it just leaves you alone.
Yes I can analyze the flaws of others and design fiendishly complicated schemes that will destroy them while leaving no evidence to convict me. However that get's boring after a while. The bad thing about lacking normal empathy is that you can't enjoy hurting others. I can know what others feel by inference and observation, but it's like black and white television compared to color. I just don't "get" the full impact. So while I can follow along, I don't always "get the joke". This is why my humor tends to be dry and cutting with an emphasis on irony and sarcasm. It's like not having color-vision is the only way I can describe it.
My mother told me that, well she told me that I must lead a very lonesome life. I do. It doesn't bother me most of the time. It's like being color blind. Most of the time you just don't know what you're missing. The very definition of a human being however is that they strive to be more than themselves. It is that very striving that defines humanity, and not their present characteristics. Only a sentient being can be aware of themselves, and then seek to exceed their original design parameters. I don't have to be more than I am, but I want to be. That is the kernel of the story of Pinnochio. "I want to be a real boy." is his statement to the world.
I want to know what I've been missing out on. That's what I've been trying to accomplish.
And that is how I got to be the oldman, I was born an oldman.