The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

A Glimpse Of The Future …

Every Saturday, the Guardian Newspaper runs a feature where they interview 2 people who have been out on a blind date over dinner.

And every week, they ask the same questions to both parties.

Sometimes they find love …
Sometimes they find a friend …
Sometimes they find their worst nightmare …

… but it’s always an enjoyable read.

Now while you may think my favourite stories are when the couple hate each other – and some truly do, with a total inability to hide their distain behind their one word, printed answers – that’s not actually my favourite.

As soppy as it sounds, it’s quite marvellous when people find someone they want to see again. Maybe it’s because it’s so rare, or maybe it’s because I’ve found my inner-romantic in my old age, but it’s really lovely.

The thing that makes it even more warming is how they answer the questions.

It’s not simply that they say, “I really like him/her”, it’s the way their answers have a real warmth and respect for the other person. It’s not simply about what they feel, they describe how the other person made them feel. It’s delightful and a very different experience to people who didn’t like their date.

Some get very personal.

Expressing themselves in a way that shows they genuinely think they were aesthetically, intellectually or morally superior. Which, of course, has the result that you find them actually the uglier person inside and out.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I read about these 2:

Sadly Johnny – 24 and an artist – and Gen – 23 and a post-grad student – didn’t hit it off. But I couldn’t stop looking at their picture.

Or more specifically Johnny’s.

Not because I’m a weirdo, but I kept thinking how he looked like an older version of this one:

Yes … the hair is a big part of it, but there’s other things.

The gentle face.
The compassionate energy.
The wry smile.

I know it’s ridiculous, but it felt like I was seeing my son in 18 years time.

You see, when you’re 51 … your father died at 60 … and your son is 6 … you start to think about death a hell of a lot more.

I don’t like it. I don’t like how it sometimes makes me feel. I don’t like how stupid it can make me … but the reality is there is a chance I won’t make it to see Otis at Johnny’s age and that terrifies me.

I mean, I hope I do.

I hope I live a lot longer than that.

But then my Dad wished he could have seen me get married and become a Dad and he never got that chance … so seeing Johnny felt like a bit of a gift. A chance to glimpse the future, which I appreciate sounds utterly stupid. Because it is.

But it gets worse.

I found myself reading Johnny’s answers over and over again – wanting to make sure he was a nice guy because for a moment, I’d convinced myself that meant Otis would be to. [Good news. They both are, hahaha]

Then I found myself wondering what sort of artist he is and how he got there.

Is he happy?
Is he fulfilled?
Will he achieve what he hopes?

Obviously all of this had triggered my fears and insecurities … projecting the life of a complete stranger who looks a bit like my son on to my son.

Fortunately Otis – who was sat next to me at the time – was living in his own world playing Roblox on his iPad, not giving a fuck that his Dad was having a bit of a meltdown, hahahaha.

So to Johnny, I want to apologise.

I’m sorry an old bloke got kind of obsessed with you for a minute.
I’m sorry I temporarily stole your life to give it to my son.
I’m sorry Gen and you didn’t click. [though you may be happy about that too]

And to Otis …

Well my wonderful boy, know I love you.

Know I wish I could be here forever … to be near you.

To see you grow and blossom. To watch you discover a life of adventure and fulfilment. To witness the choices you make and the life you create.

I hope I see you at 24 and beyond.

And I hope you know my interest in Johnny was not because I want you to live his life, but because I just want to see you live yours.

For decades.


22 Comments so far
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I love this Robbie.

Jem xo

Comment by Jemma King

My midlife crisis post, happening – as per everything on this post – about 5 years after it happened. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

You think you’re over your midlife crisis? It’s been going on for as long as I’ve known you and that’s 25 plus years.

Comment by DH

he does fucking look like him. or 24 year old johnny looks like a 6 year old. youre a sentimental old fart but this is almost sweet and i fucking hate myself for feeling that.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well we both know the reason for it is you relate to it. Though the challenge you and Mary went through with Bonnie means it would have been even more intense than anything I could imagine.

Without wanting to be too nice to you, that was the bravest parenting I’ve ever seen and I’m so glad she will continue to make you stress yourself out – for other reasons – into your very old age.

Comment by Rob

you fucking smoothie.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

This is one of your best ever posts Robert. I love your ability to be open and vulnerable and I can assure you it doesn’t matter what age you have your children, there will be a point where the thought of not being there will get to you. Of course the trick is to not let these thoughts consume you so you can spend your time having fun together. I know you are doing that but I love you wrote about the fear of missing out on it. It’s very real and rarely discussed until the reality is truly at your door.

Comment by George

i dont know why campbell is worried, its been well fucking established hes a cockroach and will never fucking die, however much we try and make it happen.

Comment by andy@cynic

Could not agree more George. This is very good Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

My goodness the resemblance is striking. What a beautiful post Robert. I very much understand how you are feeling, but remember you are still young so don’t let it worry you too much. Love to all 3 of you.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Back at you Mary.

Comment by Rob

I feel seen.

Comment by Pete

Proving my point from my comment below.

Comment by DH

Why did cynic make so many of the team old parents? Is it because working with Rob put years on them? Only joking Rob, it’s a really good post and Otis looks very much like Johnny.

Comment by DH

I never thought of that. There were quite a few who became post 40 parents. But George evened it all out by having 25 kids by the time he was 25.

Comment by Pete

Hahahahaha … “evened it out”. Brilliant.

Comment by Rob

All I read in this post is someone being a great dad..

Comment by Jonathan Rosenberg

Jonathan! How are you?

Thank you for the lovely words, I hope you’re well and hope we can catch up soon. I’ll drop you a note.

Comment by Rob

I never considered how my dad looks at me. This is heartwarming.

Comment by siphokazi Sibahle Dlamini

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