Sunday, March 28, 2010

Old Enough To...

Raise your hand if you’re a grown up.

I am serious. If you feel like you’re a grown up, put your hand in the air. Ok, now when did you start feeling like that? Was it when you got engaged? Married? After the birth of your first child? What made you feel like a grown up and can you please tell me how I can feel like one too?

Growing up is taking a toll on my brain. Never mind the fact that I can barely function like a normal human (whatever that is), trying to figure out to behave while constantly adjusting that for the age that I am is becoming more and more difficult.

I always hear people talking about how they feel older than they are. And sometimes I get close to feeling that way. Really close… and then I have a night like I did this past Saturday where I eat 7 Entemann’s Chocolate Frosted Mini Donuts, and 3 Full sized crumb donuts. And I realize once again… I am not yet a man.

In the mental evolution spectrum I think I have JUST figured out how to act like a semi -confident 21 year-old. And that is great. But the catch is, of course, that this is coming about 5 years too late.

Plus I have absolutely no idea how old anybody else is.

I remember the first time I noticed this. I was at camp when I was 11, back when I looked like this:

Unfortunate I know.

Anyway. We went to beautiful Mount Airy Lodge in Pennsylvania for an overnight trip and had a dance party in their “club” with another camp that was there. For the first time in my life I actually walked across the dance floor to ask another 11 year old to dance. And do you know what she said?

She said, “You know I’m the counselor right? I’m 17.”

Pssha, of course.

Long awkward pause.

So um… you don’t want to dance?”

And that was the beginning of me pretending to know what the hell I was talking about when interacting with females. The trend has continued to this day.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 40, chances are I don’t know your age. If you are a woman that spectrum included all those between 16 and 45. I constantly wonder the ages of the people I talk to. I am shocked to find out people I think might be younger than me are in their late 30s with 2 kids. Or somebody who might be a great career mentor for me is really struggling with their sophomore year.

Of high school.

I think it’s genetic. When I was little and my dad would tell us a story about a kid in a store or something and I asked him how old the kid was my dad would say, “Oh you know, 7,8,9,10.”

I mean that’s a 40 percent fluctuation in possible age!

How old was she?
Oh you know, late 20s, early 40s.

Everybody looks the same age to me. Which makes me wonder, how old do I look?

I know I have a baby face, and I shave as infrequently as possible. I do this for several reasons. The main reason being that I am lazy. (This informs most of the decisions in my life) The second reason is that I don’t like scraping blades on myself, but also because I think having a few days scruff makes me look a little older.

When I am cleanly shaven like here I can’t even buy expired grape juice never mind a glass of wine.

Perhaps the intense stare is to confuse people into making them think I am older?

I’m sure I will get to a certain age where I will shave everyday to maintain my youthful exuberance. But how old do I look? At the bar I work at people regularly ask me if I am still in school.

But on the flip side, I have been noticing a strange trend recently. People have been calling me sir. Like, more than one person. Multiple people calling me sir, and one person called me mister.


Like I was buying a newspaper from him on the corner for a nickel.

Does this idiot look like a mister to you?


What do you mean what am I doing? I'm changing my socks obviously.


When I didn’t know a woman’s name I used to say, “Excuse me ma’am” until I kept getting yelled at. On more than one occasion I heard;

Do I look old to you?

At which point I froze because I know this is a trick question, and saying yes will probably get me slapped. The only logical response is to immediately fake your own death.

Or even worse they say something like, “How old do you think I am?”

At which point I say, “Old enough to vote?”

I really have no idea how old people are. I bartend, and have for 5 years. I might get into trouble on this but I never check I.D.s. Now I’m probably going to have busloads of 8th graders coming into the bar next week but I just take it for granted that anybody who orders a drink is of age.

I just don’t want to offend somebody when I ask to see their I.D. I have been to bars where sometimes I get carded and sometimes I don’t, by the same bouncer. I mean it’s not like I’m walking in there with a balloon and a box of animal crackers in my hand. I look pretty much the same most days. At least I think so.

I think going forward my best bet is to avoid all discussions about age. And I think I will stick to my regular regimen of not shaving.

And when it comes to the dance floor, as long as I avoid accidentally asking the campers to dance… I think I should be fine.


It's All Good said...

I flipped a shit when I found my first gray hair last year, I was only 21!!! and yes, people mistake my age all the time, I constantly get asked which school I go to... which high school, that is....

I say fuck what our birth certificates say, let's eat donuts (or 20 pizza rolls and two slices of red velvet cake in my particular situation) everyday and just feel however old we feel.

Jordyn said...

This year I visited my mom at the high school where she teaches, and one of her students said, "Who's that lady?" upon seeing me. I usually reserve the term "lady" for women clearly over 40, so needless to say, it was traumatizing. That same week, a lady (see?) told me I looked "much, MUCH younger than 21." Both encounters sucked.

zachary said...

I like how you "play" with the structures of your post. Very well written, not that i'm a writer anyways..Point is, i enjoy reading your post.

Rowena... said...

Well your physical appearance on this page certainly says "young", but I am most certain that at least you're old enough to know about the birds and the bees. You do know about the birds and the bees, right?

Amy said...

I know exactly how you feel! I used to be a grocery store cashier and would card people for cigarettes only to find out they were 35. Arg, how embarrassing!
Great take on the subject though, your writing is great - very funny :)

scarlethue said...

Looking at your picture, I'd say you're a couple years younger than me. I can see how being clean-shaven would make you look younger, though. My husband is the same way-- a couple day's shadow and he's 32 (his real age), but clean-shaven he might as well be 25.

I'm a couple months shy of 28 myself, although most of the time I feel like an 8-year-old playing house with the cute neighbor boy. "Grown up?" I don't even know what that means. What's that quote...

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."
- George Bernard Shaw

Tara Rose Stromberg said...

Entenmmann's Crumb Donuts!!!!

Be-autiful Mount Air-y Loooodge!!!

You had two references to our generation's early childhood Sunday mornings.

We're not adults yet. We're still clinging to the past. And that's okay...until we need to do the laundry. I'm waiting to grow my adults balls in order to get that shit done.

Jeninacide said...

I would say from the photo that you posted that you look like you're in your "early twenties". Older than teens, younger than pushing 30. If that helps?

People used to think I was REALLY young for a very long time. People were always surprised to hear that I was 23 because they had thought I was 18-ish.

I remember the first time I realized that I NO LONGER look like a KID. It was after I had my son. I was having lunch with my mom and sister and watched as an (obvious) teenager strolled by with a baby in a stroller. I was like "OMG I hope people don't think I am a teen mom!"

At that point my mom and sister both broke into hysterical laughter, assuring me that there was no chance in HELL that that could be the case. I was probably 25 at the time.

That isn't to say that I still don't feel very young. I am 27 with a 2.5 year old, and in situations around other parents with their children, I feel like an immature KID. They are all in their late 30's and 40's and I feel like the little tagalong trying to hang out with the big kids.

So, perhaps we never grow up?

Robin Z said...

Somedays I feel very old AND immature in the same dot of a thought. How does that work?

I have two teens and am constantly scrutinized when I tell people this because, apparently, I look like I must have been a pre-teen mother. Sigh. . . The indignities my family have suffered because I look younger than my years.

It's a blessing. . . it's a curse. . . it's a blessing. . . it's a curse. . .

Oh, BTW, the gray - ummmmmm, frosted hair of recent years has NOT helped this situation as one would think it should.

Robin Z

Jenny DB said...

Aaah, calling a 20s girl "Ma'am" is THE WORST. I snapped at a guy who said excuse me ma'am to me at a concert a few months ago, granted i was a little tipsy but he was like, whatever it's not like you're a spring chick. Actually I don't know if he said that but he probably thought it. Regardless, Ma'am is NOT COOL...

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

Not a day over 24, that's my guess!

I'm knocking on 40's door, I still act like I'm 12, age is relative, unless of course you want to drink than it's everything!

Laurnie said...

I felt old enough when I bought a couch that wasnt used, and wasnt from IKEA. Then I started feeling old and LAME when I started falling asleep after a 2nd glass of wine. PS - Im only 30.

Ava said...

You never stop marveling about the disconnect between your year count and how old you actually feel. I feel like college was last year and can't figure how I went from trying to sound like I'd been doing my job longer than six months to being a mentor to 20 somethings.

I started feeling like a bonafide adult when a couple of things happened. I really started thinking about when I might stop working and realizing I actually had to plan for retirement, comfort became the driving factor in my shoe choices, and I started recognizing what some of my old people aches were going to be. But I don't think the insides change much at all. That's why it feels so weird.

Caroline B said...

When do you feel like an adult? I don't think it's happened yet - whenever a crisis happens, there is always that twelve-year old girl inside whining 'I can't deal with this, I'm just a kid'!
I think key moments in your life bring it home that you are actually a grown-up -like writing your first cheque for an amount with more than three digits, seeing your first child graduate, having no more elderly aunts or uncles left....gawd, I'm depressed now!
BTW, I was tall from a child, so have never been asked if I'm old enough for anything - in fact the opposite. I remember my mum getting into a confrontation with a bus conductor because he didn't believe I was 12 and qualified for a child fare. Great fun being served in a pub when you are 16...

The Girl said...

I think it's good to be asked for your id! They have this weird thing in some shops at the moment over here where, even though you can buy alcohol when you're 18, there are signs everywhere saying that you'll be asked for ID if you look under 21. The other day a woman asked me and I nearly kissed her face, if she wants to think I'm under 21 then that's okey smokey with me.

Sadly, it hardly ever happens.

I do have a friend who's the same age as me who still gets id'd when he tries to buy a lottery ticket - I find THAT hilarious. And it also makes me want to smack him a bit. Stupid baby face.

ShineForLife said...

Hello, you may or not remember commenting on my blog [depending on how often you comment on people's blogs.] But it was probably a few weeks ago.

But yeah.

Just last year I was golfing with some people that I just met. Everything was fine until one asked me my age. She thought I was twelve.

Then recently I went to a restaurant, where the waitress proceeded to ask both me and my mother whether we were twenty one.

I'm sixteen...

Anonymous said...

Better say nothing than nothing to the purpose. ........................................

幸雨 said...

Actions speak louder than words. ........................................

Derik said...

I wouldn't worry too much about all of that; America is probably the place where you should be least concerned about your own identity as male, seeing as how were so confused, you know, with that whole sort of area. I would say being a man in somewhere between Washington and Hemingway.

And did you know that the average age for graduating college is twenty-seven? Maybe you don't look as young as you think, you know, so people are generally concerned that you are still getting an education. Whether that's good or bad is up for grabs.

Nancy said...

My older daughter is 27 and always gets carded. The other night the server was making the rounds at the table (we had four young women with us) and did a little abrupt stop when it came to me! LOL! My daughter even commented on it... (they never let those pass, do they?)

I like that you don't think in terms of age. It makes you much more interesting, I think. As for how old you look? Well, I'm sorry to say somewhere between my daughters - 22 and 27.

jorg wobblington lopez said...

hahaha! Great post!

My mental age shifts from 4 or 5 to 45 like the clouds shift. My rule for guessing ages is to always guess lower than you think the real number is, unless you are trying to guess an old persons age, then the number is a couple years higher. This formula doesn't work on the ages of 20-40, though, so I guess you are still screwed. As am I :( Whatever.

Anonymous said...

God you are cute, you know that? I have a teensy little crush on you.

Pond said...

Let's slice and dice this puppy a bit..not just being grown up, what about acting grown up or appearing grown up.
I would think the most pressing quality for acting grown up might be taking responsibility for yourself, for your actions. Some folks just never figure this one out.
As for appearing grown up; that is one of those details that is more in perception as you have already figured out, if you have trouble guessing someone's age. Be glad you appear young, in 20 years you'll be happy for it.

DangGina said...

Yeah...asking a 17 year old to dance when you're 11 is much less creepy than asking a 17 year old to dance when you're 26...heh heh...

I'm no good with ages either. I near my 28th birthday, I can hardly believe that I'm closer to 30 than 20; when (and how!) did this happen? I've been done with grad school for nearly 4 years; I have an actual career, a car, and a little bit of debt...this screams "adulthood" doesn't it? Alas, I feel like a kid. Who knew, back when I thought 27 sounded so old, that it'd feel so darn young?

Anyhoo, be glad you look younger than you are; it beats the alternative! (I’m not wrong, am I?)

Pat said...

Wait. Are you saying that it's wrong that I ate a bunch of donut holes yesterday morning - and I'm 54? I don't think I have grown up YET. I don't know WHAT I want to be when I grow up. It's pretty bad when your own kids surpass you in age. Well, at least my daughter has in maturity.

I LOVE the camp/dance story. Hysterical.

JerseySjov said...

i just love a man in a vest.

Anonymous said...

Ha! So glad you put all my feelings into words. I have no idea how to gauge anyone's age anymore, and I certainly only know my age because it's mine; otherwise, I'd guess that I was still twelve.