Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I went to the YWCA gyme today and my mom tried to sign me in as her guest, which we always do. I pay the drop-in member's guest fee and I sign the sheet and it's all good.
But this time, the woman at the counter actually leaned down towards me, like adults do with small children, and said "Are you over fifteen?" (You have to be over 15 to use the gym)
I glared...for several awkward seconds.
"I'm 21," I said, finally. "I just graduated from university." Glare.
She was somewhat apologetic. It's not like it was a bar and I was underage and trying to buy a drink, after all.
I am incredibly irritated by people who think I'm younger than I am. How annoying. I lived every single painful moment of my teenage years. I was gawky, I had bad skin, I wore ugly clothes and stupid nail polish and silly hair accessories. I passed tedious notes to my classmates and smoked pot clandestinely under the docks with my friends, and usually I didn't inhale. I forced some awkward flirtations with even more awkward boys who didn't know a breast from an elbow, and would rather have been playing soccer anyways. I really, really, really, don't care to repeat those years.
I am also sick to death of hearing ridiculous cliches like:
"You just wait until you're older. Then you'll be glad when people mistake you for a teenager."
"You're LUCKY to look so young!"
"It's a compliment!"
"Wow! I wish people thought I was that young!"
UGH! Why on earth would I want to look like a child?? Or worse, a teenager? Jail-bait cliches aside (they're bad enough in themselves), most REAL teenagers are NOT attractive, and I do NOT want to look like one. Nor do I wish to be associated with that tedious, if perhaps necessary period in my life. It has passed, thank God. Let it never be revived.
I refuse to become one of those middle-aged women who fears looking their age, and obsessively tries to avoid it. What the hell is wrong about looking your age? Age equals experience. Age should equal wisdom, although some people never seem to lose their idiocy.
I refuse to be one of those women who spends thousands of dollars on plastic surgery and anti-wrinkle creams and anti-aging potions. I think it's revolting. It is truly a poisonous aspect of our society that we value youth so highly and devalue age so much. Kids are stupid! I fully admit it. I know it, because I am one. I am totally clueless about a hell of a lot of things. I am by no means one of those intensely irritating individuals who claims to know everything before they've even hit their 20s. Nope, no way. I am IGNORANT! Dumb. Naive.Young!
That and youth-driven regimes haven't gone so well historically. Look at Mao's Red Guards, most of whom were still in high school and university. They managed to destroy huge amounts of property, including antiques, temples, and works of art. Not to mention their mass violence and terrorizing campaigns. The Nazis found the bulk of their support in young people. So did the Italian fascists.
Youth may indeed be the future. But to make them the present seems to defy all logic. We are meant to show promise, but not a hell of a lot of wisdom.
I'd rather not be mistaken for someone even younger and stupider than I already am. I remember what I was like when I was 14 -- I was an irritating little brat. Hopefully when I'm in my 40s I will look back on what I've accomplished with some pride, and not be deterred by the fact that the years I have lived show themselves on my face.
Sure, I'd rather not have to experience age-related back pain anytime soon. But it's a small price to pay for actual life experience.
It just makes more sense to be dissatisfied with your failures in life than to be dissatisfied because you look your age.
Our priorities often seem so messed-up to me.
Ah well. Back to listening to Leonard Cohen. He's an old guy who understands where I'm coming from.
Sorry I'm so inarticulate. It's late and I am lazy.