You’d accept it if I had a gay or black friend, so why not older?
It’s often been remarked upon that my friends are misfits. I’ve kind of got used to raised eyebrows when I turn up with my openly gay or hijabi gang, but I’m always astonished by the amount of prejudice my older friends recieve.
“Do you fancy him or something?” A friend recently asked, peering at my 31 year old friend in bemusement. Actually I don’t have some weird thing for older guys (or girls). I liked this particular guy because he was an amazing pianist, hilariously funny and trilingual. You’d say something to him and he’d parrot it back to you in Polish, Finnish or Russian. It’s a cool party trick. I simply said no and hoped to God she never bumped into me with someone even older.
Everyone under 25 seems baffled by the fact I could have mutual respect and platonic interest in anyone who doesn’t know how to use snapchat or make a meme. It’s quite simple really: I don’t drink so most of the socialising I do is either with
a) Academics (geeks, people who don’t want to work)
b) Religious people (Hindus, Muslims, Bahais, some Jews/Christians)
c) Older people who don’t want to get wasted at a gallery opening and like being home by 9pm to watch David Attenborough
And when you aren’t off your face on ket or weed, you have to actually talk to people. Don’t get me wrong, if your goal is to get sloshed and go home with James The Jock, go to HEAVEN and have fun. But it’s not for me. Most of the people I meet and connect with have zero muscle mass and zero interest in clubbing. So we do boring stuff like discuss how shit Malinowski is and make fun of Donald Tusk. We don’t think we are better than you. In actual fact, we just feel that we are way too awkward and weird to get drunk/high and go clubbing. We are the people of the cat, the hot chocolate and the documentaries. And we like it that way. We are old souls.
But that doesn’t mean that my older friends are boring. Or unable to have anything to do with our generation. Actually, if you spoke to them, they have the most amazing intelligence, experience and humour to add to the conversation. I can ask them what it was like to live through Thatcher. I can actually have an informed opinion on what REALLY started the gulf war. And that is actually pretty cool. Once you hit about 20–21, the Grown Ups just become…people. And often, cool people.
Just stop calling them ‘sir’ and ‘Mr Davis’ and get to know Jack who, outside lectures, actually knows some really funny stories about working in the HoL. Get to know Holly, who, under the cardigans, used to be a stripper in Mayfair. And Jenny, who cleans your common room, is a rabid communist who rallies at weekends. They are more like you than you think.
Just…break the lines and meet people. Old, gay, PoC or sex workers, we all have stuff in common that makes for a wider friendship group and a better world.