I think working in an industry like mine accelerates aging. Or maybe it’s just working for and with people who haven’t the faintest idea what they’re doing in an industry like mine that accelerates aging. Whatever it is, I feel a hundred years older after barely having worked two months in this country than I did after working for a year in the U.S.
Maybe I feel that way because I spend my days catering to everyone and trying to be in seven places at a time, resulting in the dire need to do nothing except crawl into bed and mope the night away. Or maybe I feel that way because I spent half of yesterday and all of today with kids — finalists for the RHB-NST Spell-It-Right Challenge — and their simpering parents, who made me think of the insane childhood I had. Or maybe — just maybe — I feel that way because today a journalist asked if I have kids, where before they only asked if I’m married; apparently I’ve gone from looking marriageable to parental.
But when one of the primary school finalists who dropped out of the morning preliminaries was crying in the bathroom during the break, I looked at her teacher trying to console her and heard myself saying, “It’s OK, honey, it’s good that you made it this far… You beat the rest of your state to get to this level… There are words that even adults can’t spell…” and on and on. And for a second there I almost cried with her, because I saw how devastated she was to have been taken out of the running so early in the finals, and I just wanted to keep telling her over and over again that it was OK.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have cared the core of a cabbage what these kids were doing at a spelling bee, because my bitter, jaded, cynical side would kick in and I would probably have sneered at the notion of people in this country being able to spell anything with more than three syllables. But then when the winners spelt their last words right and everyone started applauding, I was actually happy for them — and with them.
I’m either a sap, or I’m getting old.