People tell me I look really young all the time. I turn thirty next year and I can't wait because I know that the response of "I'm thirty!" has such a better kick to it then any number in the twenties, especially because they usually guess twenty-one.
Most strangers are very polite when they mistake my age and the whole thing ends up being a very complimentary experience. However, some people take it a little bit too far. Case in point, the other night I was in a Disneyland line at Cafe Rio with my good friends Jenny and Laura. We were, in fact, talking about the happiest place on earth when the elderly bald man in front of me (I say elderly as to retroactively prejudge him as he did me) turned to me and asked,
"We (indicating the woman next to him) have just been wondering, is that a real wedding ring you're wearing? Are you really married? Because you look like you're twelve."
Whoa. So many questions. Which one to answer first? All I got out was a non-descript "I am," before he added to my friends,
"You guys look YOUR age, like sixteen."
Was this guy for real? I informed him that I was married, had two children, and would be twenty-nine next month. He said, "I'm twenty-nine, and I look forty."
That was a freebie. At least I didn't have to point that out for him. I did throw in a "Well, thank you...I guess..." and that was the end of that awkward conversation, or so I thought.
Five minutes later, he turned around, almost perplexed,
"Can I ask where you're from? I need to drink some of the water from wherever that is."
Uh, too late. And now sort of creepy. Does he always solicit girls whom he believes to be not yet of a legal age while he's on a date with his wife?
I just told him that my mom looks young and he said his mom looks old (tomato, tomahto) and I said that it would probably work to my advantage when I was forty and he said, "I guess..." and then I ended the conversation with the good old "Must be the genes," and a shrug of the shoulders.
My friends and I had a laugh over this guy's wierd interrogation, but the more I thought about it, the more strange it seemed to me.
First of all, the guy almost seemed offended that I looked young. My friends thought he must be jealous. And my mom did always say that other kids cut you down when they are envious of you. So is that why he said I was twelve? Because when you think about it, it's one thing to assume someone is nineteen or sixteen--that's not really insulting. But to tell a woman she looks entirely pre-pubescent? Nice manners, guy! Is this what this couple does for kicks? Goes out in public to prey on innocent, unsuspecting Disneyland-loving girls wearing wedding rings? And why throw in the part about "is that a real ring?" I may as well have been five, out in public in my mom's heels, dress, and jewelry, trying so hard to be a grown-up.
I think my problem is that I'm too nice. I need to do the other adolescent-looking women a favor out there and nip these guys in the bud. What I should have said was, "Yes, I am married, and yes, I am twelve. I'm going to be wife number six, June here is number five, and Mary Beth, number three. They are taking me out to dinner to celebrate my engagement!" I would have paid money to see his reaction, and I can only hope he would have learned his lesson.
Which reminds me, whenever I fly with my kids by myself I get the strangest looks, all of which seem to say, "Oh look at that poor girl who got knocked up once in high school, then was stupid enough to do it again!" I have always longed to turn to one of these onlookers and casually mention, "I hope this flight is on-time. I have to get back for the prom tonight!" Maybe next time, I just might.