October 2019 Millar's JurisDiction - The Fountain of Youth

by Richard W. Millar, Jr.

Ah, youth. The young do not appreciate it and the old yearn for it. As the saying, attributed to Oscar Wilde, goes: “Youth is wasted on the young.”

The legend of the Fountain of Youth is thousands of years old, which may make it a record for its persistence if anyone keeps track of the longevity of those sorts of myths. From school, I remember it from the story of Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who traveled to Florida in the 1500s and was told by the American Indians that it would restore youth to anyone who sipped its waters. Not only did he not find it, no one else in Florida did either, and today the state is oft referred to as, “God’s waiting room.”

Now that the explorers have come up short, the search seems focused on the pharmaceutical industry and the unending supplies of supplements touted on the back pages promoting, if not the restoration of youth, at least a slowdown of our slide into destiny.

The rumor lives on, I think, because we all dream, and where dreams exist, gullibility is not far behind.

That said, I am happy to report that a Dutchman thinks he has found the Fountain of Youth.

Except it isn’t a fountain.

It’s a courthouse.

I will explain, and I swear I am not making this up.

One Emile Ratelband is a Dutch television personality, a life coach—a term that conveys either several meanings or no meaning—and a self-described “positivity guru.” (That is probably all you need to know, but I digress.)

Mr. Ratelband is now seventy years old but looks (according to him) and feels much younger. Like twenty years younger.

So, he did what every red-blooded positivity guru would do: last year he went to court in the Netherlands and filed a Petition to Change his birth date from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969. (That would make Ponce de Leon spin in his grave thinking that was a heck of a lot easier than tramping all over Florida.)

His rationale in his Petition was that becoming forty-nine again would make him more enticing on dating websites such as Tinder, help him get mortgages, get him more work, and generally improve his outlook on life. He would, in short, have more of a future than a past.

He was even willing to sacrifice his pension, which, assuming he “became” forty-nine, he would no longer be eligible for.

When the judge asked what his parents would think, he replied that they were dead, which led that possible judicial escape route into a box canyon.

He argued that since he was allowed to change his name and even his gender, he certainly should be allowed to change his birth date, a position which strikes me as uncomfortably logical.

Well, Mr. de Leon can stop spinning, and the search for the Fountain of Youth can continue, because the court denied the Petition. It ruled that while gender could be changed following what the court called a global debate, Mr. Ratelband’s request was the only one of its kind and to change age presaged a host of complications, including the right to vote, drink alcohol, and to drive a car. And, as the court also noted, could open the door to people trying to advance their age, which, I assume, could include underage drinkers, drivers, and voters or those trying to get an early start on any Dutch version of social security.

The court also said that if Mr. Ratelband felt he was a victim of age discrimination, he had other remedies, although I am not sure how that works on Tinder.

I guess from here on out he will have to go Dutchman.

Richard W. Millar, Jr. is Of Counsel with the firm of Friedman Stroffe & Gerard in Irvine. He can be reached at rmillar@fsglawyers.com.