Saturday, April 9, 2011

What does 38 look like?

When I was a teenager, my friends would get me to buy cigarettes for them (I'm not a smoker, but many of them were) because nobody ever asked me for ID.  By age 16 I was six feet tall and I guess that tricked people into thinking I was a grown-up.

In my 20s, people consistently guessed that I was five or ten years younger than my actual age.  I remember one particular office temp job where everyone treated me like an adorable mascot.  One day, one of my co-workers asked me if I was just there to "make some extra money over Christmas break" or what, and I realized that she (and everyone else) thought I was in high school.  I was like "Well, no...I'm just...supporting myself."  Pause.  "I'm 23."  Pause.  "I recently got married." the lady was like "Oh." and after that she (and everyone else) stopped treating me like an adorable mascot and things got really really awkward.  I guess it's not socially acceptable to bop someone on the head with a stack of rolled-up photocopies when she's grown up and married and stuff.

Nowadays, people's opinions are divided: either they think I look exactly my age, or they think I'm 22.

On one hand, at my last job one of my (young) coworkers decided to dress as "an '80s girl" for Hallowe'en, went on and on about how ridiculous and stupid and ugly the costume was*, and didn't clue in when I was like "Ease off on the stupid-talk, would you?  That's my adolescence you're maligning."  Finally I had to spell it out for her, and she didn't believe my age until I showed her my driver's license.  And I regularly get asked for ID when going clubbing or buying liquor (ironically, probably because of my height again; most women in my generation are pretty short, but kids these days keep getting taller and taller).

On the other hand, when I have a birthday, nobody asks me my age anymore - so obviously they suspect I'm old enough to be offended by the question (nobody hesitates to ask a teenager her age...).  If I choose to volunteer the information, I always pause right after to make room for all the gasps of disbelief...and, increasingly, there are none (and yeah, I'm vain enough to be a little peeved by this).  And a couple of months ago, a 40s-ish woman stopped me in the grocery store to compliment my winter hat with the cat ears on it and said "dressing like that makes us feel young again, eh?" with a smile of complicity.

It's normal for someone to maybe be "off" by five years (in either direction) when guessing a person's age, but for the guesses to span about fifteen years? That's just odd.

Clearly, I am some kind of changeling.
Anyway.  I've been thinking about this stuff is my BIRTHDAY!  I'm 38 years old...whatever the hell that means.

I'm gonna get off the internet and allow The Boy to shower me with adoration now.  :D

*A long poufy skirt, a big poufy scarf to tie around her (crimped) ponytail, and...I forget what else.  Possibly fingerless lace gloves.  Almost certainly an off-the-shoulder top of some kind. Personally, I don't think any of those items are all that unfashionable on their own, and only moderately silly all put together.  But whatever, I'm old.


  1. well i think 38 looks pretty damn lovely! happy birthday.

    i've had similar issues my whole life. when i was younger i never wore a lot of makeup or tried to look older, so everyone always assumed i was really young. plus, my husband is ten years older than me and for a while people would ask if he was my dad. that's always a fun one.

    now, i usually have my kids with me so i dont get carded too often anymore. i do get the occasional look of surprise when i tell people that the almost-13 year old who is as tall as me is Yes, my real son.

    Hope you have a great birthday!!!

  2. With me, the young-looking thing works out well because nobody ever realizes that The Boy is eleven years younger. :D

    I do think someone assumed I was my dad's wife once, though...back when I was 13 or 14! Ewww.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes! They must be working 'cause it's been a fabulous day so far. :)

  3. You look great. My son looked at your picture and guessed you were 25.

    Have a great birthday!

  4. Clearly, your son is awesome.

    And thank you. :)

  5. Sorry I'm a day late, but happy belated birthday!

  6. Thanks, Charles! I like belated birthday wishes, actually...they make the time after the Big Day a little less anticlimactic. :D

  7. You're 38? WTF! Didn't even come close, hahah. I thought you were my age. XD

    Happy Belated Birthday, lady! :D

  8. A very belated happy birthday from a virtual stranger but I just had to comment because this post made me laugh and remember when it dawned on me that my colleagues were treating me like the office elder! Ha ha, I was only 30 at the time - we had a very young staff...

  9. Oh, I forgot to say thanks for dropping by my blog! I had thought about cupcake designs for those little plugs as well so I will let you know how I go (I am assuming you remember what the heck I am talking about - otherwise this is going to sound odd!).

  10. Thank you for the comments, Catherine!

    In my last job, most of my coworkers were over a decade my junior. There was enough of an age gap that if I ever mentioned a tv show or movie from my childhood, they'd never heard of it! It's the first time I started to feel old.

    Hey, if you do your cupcakes as beads (like the mushroom bracelet) you could string a little red glass bead on each headpin for a "cherry"! Or maybe glue a bit of glitter on top for "sprinkles"...there are a lot of exciting possibilities!

  11. Interesting post. I am 38 tomorrow and even though I say it myself look young for my years. Hopefully I keep it that way, but it's more of a challenge than it used to be!