Saturday, October 28, 2006

That fresh-faced look

So I'm sitting in a car on Friday, waiting for some people and chatting with a very interesting person about lots of different things.

As I am wont to do, I commented that I am a fan of technology. I love that I can make international phone calls for 9¢ a minute. I love that I can take a picture of my kid, edit and tweak it, E-mail it, post it online, or, if I need an actual print, get an 8x10 enlargement for under a buck. And when the one-hour picture is ready in 15 minutes and the guy at the photo place calls my cell phone to let me know that I can stop back by when we're done at the food court, I like that too.

But I digress. I was sitting in this car talking about technology and doing the old, "if we didn't have computers or CDs or VCRs or cell phones or digital watches or color TV when I was a kid, imagine what my kids will have when they're 37 years old."

And that was the end of that conversation.

Why? Because Jerry, the guy I was talking to, went all slack-jawed and couldn't get over my age. Now, like my father before me, I do make a young impression. (Wasted though it may be on someone who doesn't care that much.) I get a lot of "Really? I figured you were..." with guesses six or eight years younger. Maybe ten. Whatever. But this guy made such a big deal out of it and stressed so hard that he didn't want to offend me, that I began to wonder if he thought I was older than I am. Again, whatever.

Now we had only met a few days before, but we had spent quite a bit of time talking about a whole range of topics, and I had mentioned that I've lived in Costa Rica for 17 years, and that I have kids aged 5 and (almost) 8, although he hasn't met them.

After a couple more preemptive apologies I finally got him to admit that he'd taken me for 22 or 23, and that he figured I'd been a young mother. I guess I could have had Robin at 14 (I was actually 29). Maybe even married at 10. But moving to Central America for college at age 5 is pushing it a little.

Offended? No. Bemused? You betcha.

And just imagine if I wore makeup. "Is that Oil of Olay? Quick! Get it out of here! You want me to disappear right back into the womb for crying out loud?"


Dad October 28, 2006 7:34 PM  

A "young impression like your father before you?" Yup.

When I was doing clinical pastoral education while in seminary, I (then age 25) marched into a hospital room and introduced myself to the young woman (21) in the bed. "Hello - I'm Chaplain Tucker." She later told me that she had thought, when she first saw me, that I was (and I quote) "a high school kid." old is this Jerry?? From what (age) perspective is he speaking?

One of your babysitters back in Rhode Island admitted that she had thought I was in my 20's (I was in my early 30's at the time) and that Mom (who was in her late 20's at the time) was about 35. (The babysitter, who was also named Jennifer) was about 15.)

Dad October 29, 2006 6:08 AM  

Hmmm...Last night I wrote a comment, but the main page still shows "0 comments." BUT it shows up when I go to post a comment. Weird...

lisa October 29, 2006 11:24 PM  

I still get it pretty regularly too. They usually think I'm in my low or mid 20's.

I had an interesting day a month or so ago. At work, I talked for a while with an older gentleman who ended up asking if I was in school. (At this point I think they pretty much all mean college, and not high school any more.) He couldn't believe I was 34. Then I stopped at Aldi on the way home, and the girl at the checkout said there's this boy that looks just like me, and wondered if we were related. She said he could totally be my son. I said no and asked how old he was. She said, "my age...about 20." Then of course she was all quick with the "I don't mean you look old enough to have a 20 year old son...." and all that. But that was a first. I still occasionally get carded when buying wine at the grocery store, but it's fewer and farther between. But the last time, a week or so ago, I actually saw the girl's eyes get big when she looked at my license. I didn't actually hear whoa, no way! But I saw it. (And if you have a better way to spell whoa, please share.)

mom October 30, 2006 5:52 AM  

What I don't understand is how an interesting person with whom you have talked quite a bit about a wide range of subjects over a period of several days would think that anyone could have acqired the breadth and depth of your wisdom and experience in a mere 22 or 23 years.

Anonymous October 30, 2006 7:31 AM  

People frequently think I am younger than I am, too. (and, btw, I totally wouldn't have guessed that you were 37. Maybe 32 or 33...)

Jennifer October 30, 2006 10:46 AM  

That. What Mom just said. I thought that too.

Although Jerry has enough experience of the world in his own right that he may unconsciously set the conversational bar a little higher than some other people.

Yeah. That's my new theory.

I never did find (or figure) out how old he was, but based on the time frame of a major life experience he told me about, I'd say about my (real) age, or maybe a few years older. Of course, he may make an older impression because of the depth and breadth of his experience...

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