I’m old. I’ve finally accepted that. But the thing is, I have always looked older than I am.
When I was 17, my friends used to send me into the liquor store for them because I didn’t get carded. People often mistook me for being in my mid-20s. I liked looking old then.
But during the summer when I was 51, three incidents occurred that brought me up short:
- One day my daughter said, “Dad, I can’t remember. Are you going to be 53 or 54 on your next birthday?” I told her in no uncertain terms that I was going to be 52. And just to make a point, for the next many years we continued to celebrate my 52nd birthday.
But I naively didn’t chalk that up to my looks. I just thought she had forgotten my age. The next one really hurt, though:
- I was at a bus stop and decided to chat up an attractive young woman who was there, too. “Are you a student at the university?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she replied. “Are you?” Well I knew I looked older than the typical undergraduate stud, so I wasn’t really flattered. I merely smiled and said, “No, I’m a prof.”
But then she added, quite unnecessarily I think, “Oh. Well the only reason I asked is there are lots of seniors in some of my classes.”
Seniors? Me, a senior? Sure, you can get an AARP membership at age 50, and, sure, some life insurance companies urge you to fantasize that you can retire at age 55, but senior? Me? Hmph.
- I’d have written that off as an isolated incident, but a month later when I was ordering a steak at a semi-fast restaurant, I thought I had been undercharged by several dollars. When I graciously pointed out the mistake, the young woman at the cash register smiled, “Oh no, sir. I just gave you the seniors’ discount.”
Seniors’ discount? I was in my early fifties!
For several years after that I used Just For Men.
Ms. Eclectic says that now, many years after those incidents, my age is finally catching up to my looks, and I was beginning to think maybe she was right. But just last weekend, someone asked me, “How old are you?” and guessed numbers in a range about five years older than I really am.
I exhaled deeply and hung my head in resignation. So now, when people ask my age, I just tell them, “Under 90”.