I have recently come to the realization that I am at a very strange age, vis a vis how I look at the world and how it looks at me. I turn 28 in slightly less than a month, and for the better part of my career (for some reason, I am very tempted to put the word “illustrious” in front of “career” in spite of the fact that it would be wildly inaccurate to do so) I have struggled with people thinking I am very young, treating me like I am very young, and repeatedly pointing out to me just how very young I am, in spite of the fact that to point out, in turn, how very old they were would be considered a social and professional faux pas of the highest order. For the past two years, I have remained a bit paranoid about whether my clients would take the same attitude, but either my portfolio or my overuse of words like “echelon” or the clusters of grey hairs sneaking into place all around my scalp must command some sort of respect and it thus far hasn’t been a problem. I mean, I know what I’m doing, I just haven’t always been confident that everyone ELSE knows I know what I’m doing, you know? Those years spent with bosses saying in meetings filled with my colleagues and superiors that they’d answer my question when I was older sort of scarred me a tiny bit. I never found that joke particularly funny but apparently it was quite a knee-slapper, because it came up about once every two weeks for several years, along with The One About How Often Lauren Must Get Carded and The One About How We Should Talk About This Later When Lauren’s Sensitive Ears Aren’t Around.
So I’ve always had a bit of an awkward relationship with my age, and not a single birthday has passed in recent memory on which I haven’t been at least somewhat relieved to be getting older. I have been told to expect that will change at any moment, but at this juncture I’m still looking forward to turning 28. Especially since this morning at Starbucks, the barista who handed me my latte called me “miss”.
But then again, two weeks ago the server at Williams called me “ma’am”. As if that wasn’t confusing enough (because really, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in the middle of the day wearing a t-shirt with a giant mushroom on it – what exactly is it about that scenario that screams “ma’am” to you?) on the way into the same store on the very same day, the older gentleman who held the door open for me called me “young lady”. And a few weeks ago, I watched part of the Teen Choice Awards (don’t judge me) and I alternated between nodding in appreciation and awe at Robert Pattinson’s hair (I mean, at very least, you have to RESPECT the hair, even if you don’t much care for it) and shrieking “Won’t SOMEONE please THINK of the CHILDREN!” when Miley Cyrus walked out on stage in a skimpy outfit and subsequently pole-danced to a tune that then got lodged in my head for a week. Against my better judgment, I devoured the Twilight books (don’t judge me) while in Australia last fall and alternated between thinking they were the best books ever (aside from, you know, Munro and Kafka and Salinger and Shakespeare – basically every writer out there is more competent than Stephanie Meyer but boy can she produce a vampire story you can really sink your teeth into) and worrying about the masses of 12 year olds out there that think creepy, controlling, stalker vampires are the best thing since sliced bread.
Frankly, it’s no wonder baristas can’t make up their minds about which age group I fall into because apparently neither can I.
At this point, I expect this sort of behaviour will continue until I turn 30, at which point I am led to believe I will never want to celebrate another birthday ever again. I can’t imagine that ever happening (you get CAKE at birthday celebrations and also PRESENTS) but I suppose time will tell. One of these days I’ll probably reflect all morosely about how no one ever calls me “miss” anymore and you can all remind me about the time I yammered on for a few hundred words about how awful and confusing it was to be treated like such a youngster and then lazily butchered a Britney Spears song for the title.