One of the organizations for which I blog asked me for a photo recently and I sent the one at left. I got a nice e-mail back saying I was clearly too young to write for the group because their demographic was 50+. I laughed and laughed.
AARP knows the truth — despite my ability to pass as a third-grader some days (perhaps its the fact that I dress like a third-grader and often my pigtails are so tight that not only is my face wrinkle-free, so are my knees) — I am actually almost midway into my 50s. It won’t be too long until I can get the “honored citizen” prices at restaurants. Will I get a certificate?
Sometimes I’m happy to pass for younger than my real age, but then people look at me funny when I say something like, “I’ve been teaching this class for 16 years” or “I’ve been owned by dogs for 27 years.” They assume I was either very young when I started or lying through my teeth (which I have been known to do — it IS the hallmark of being a comedian and comedy writer).
I teach classes at the University of Oregon and the majority of my students are in their late teens and early twenties. They clearly know I am older than they are and think I’m ancient — probably at least 35 or 40. To them, that’s the cut off. You’re either young, in your 30s to early 40s, or dead. If they figured out my real age, they’d expect me to show up with a walker or a “Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up” button on a chain around my neck.
I can still walk across campus at twice the rate of speed of most of the students. Of course, it helps that my head isn’t bowed in “text-messaging is the new form of worship” position as I hike from one class to another. That makes me feel young and healthy, despite the fact that I’m often out of breath by the time I get to the lecture hall.
But the feeling of youthfulness only lasts until I mention disco or Nixon (equally likely). Then the jig is up.