I recently celebrated a birthday, turning an age I refuse to mention in most public circles. (I will admit that I’m into my third decade.) Fortunately, my looks belie my age, and I can usually pass for a strapping lad in his late 20’s. (Especially useful when flirting, as I’m usually out to strap a lad in his early 20’s.) On the rare occasions I admit my true age, and am inevitably told “Really? You look so young!” I usually respond with some quip about “a portrait of me growing older in my attic.” This response is met with laughter about half the time. The other half, the recipient doesn’t get the joke.
The reference is to Oscar Wilde’s only published novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, written in 1890. It tells the story of a stunningly gorgeous young man, Dorian, who is obsessed with his youth and beauty. A friend paints a portrait of him and Dorian makes a wish one night that the image will grow older but he will remain the same age. It comes true, and Dorian quickly realizes he must hide the picture in the attic as it turns uglier not only as he ages but with each sin that he commits.
Many people, especially those cute boys in their 20’s I’m flirting with, don’t know the story. And having to explain it in the moment is never good. Fortunately, this year there’s a new solution.
Opening Christmas Day is a new film titled “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” It’s based on a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald which I will admit I’d never heard of, and few twinky boys probably would have either. However, everyone will know about the new Brad Pitt movie, which is the story of a man named Benjamin who is born in his eighties and ages backwards, getting younger every day. Just like me.
“You look so young!”
“Yes, I’m the curious story of David Button.”