. . . and yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind

Let Them Eat Cake..

I turned thirty in September.

To my credit, I didn’t overly freak out as one might expect someone on the verge of being soundly routed from that decade epitomized by both the freedom of youth and the joys of full-fledged adulthood to do.  Although, I’ll admit, I may have spent many a moment while at a bachelor-ette party the weekend before  (a final hurrah, if you would, to prove that I could still toss back nearly a rent payment’s worth of cheap vodka and expensive tequila, crawl into bed after the rooster’s crow, and still survive to tell about it) adamantly insisting to friends, old and new alike, that I would not be having another birthday and that twenty-nine was a perfectly acceptable age to… well… stop aging.

Still, I’ve a fairly old soul, a realistic one at that, and when the various ‘happy birthday’ texts and calls started coming in that morning, I accepted them with grace and very little resentment.

After all, 30 is the new 20.

Right?

Right.

And then a few weeks later, I found myself being asked for id while purchasing a pack of smokes for my sister at the grocery store around the corner. The cashier was really young, still tainted by that telltale floppy-ness of youth not quite ready for swagger.

“I know you’re probably old enough, but can I see some id,” he asked conspiratorially, his ‘damn the man’ attitude charming on so many levels. I laughed, of course, thinking back on the days when you didn’t even have to be as tall as the counter to buy cigarettes, and it was fun to be the big girl and run in for your mom’s- at six years old.

“Sure thing, hon, but I promise that I am,” I handed over my out of state license with a bit of swagger of my own and watched his eyes bounce around searchingly for a bit, “the date’s at the bottom on the right.”

“Oh, ” he said, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, ma’am, but you look really young for your age,”  he smiled deferentially  and gave back the silly piece of plastic, moving on to the bagging of the mac-and-cheese destined for that night’s dinner.

“Uh…,” I paused, totally without my usual grace and mildly uncomfortable with his compliment. I stuttered over a proper response to that simple statement while trying to pinpoint what it was exactly that ruffled my feathers so, when any other sane woman would be flattered.

The fact that he called me ma’am bothered me not in the slightest, of course.  This was the South. Gray hair notwithstanding, if you were born at any time in my life that I was old enough to have changed your diaper, ma’am was and is expected. Even the loss of his conspiracy-laced tone, the one that suggested we breathed in the same “underdog in a world of autocratic adults” air together, didn’t bother me. My time of being that underdog was long enough ago that it came with its very own theme song, back when theme songs were cool and Will Smith was still a prince.

What bothered me, what really bothered me, was the emphasis– that exaggerated emphasis on the word age that made me an old woman in youth’s clothing. That exaggerated emphasis that had the lady next in line staring at my face intently as if to discover my astounding anti-aging secrets or perhaps an evident mark  indicating that I’d made a deal with some passing devil in need of a soul.  The emphasis that made 30 sound like 65.

After all,  30 is NOT 65.

That’s just silly.

Right?

This post wasn’t written for a {W}rite of Passage prompt- but I totally lucked out and it fit. Sorta. Challenge #7: Dialogue.

January 25, 2010
Categories: Daily, Only Judith
Tags: , ,
Title credit: Jane's Sense & Sensibility
Stuck in my head: Here Come's Your Man, Meaghan Smith
Recently in hand: The Truth About Lord Stoneville, Sabrina Jeffries


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