I was born with a creamy substance all over my body. The nurse told my mom this indicated I’d have good complexion. If by good complexion she meant soft skin, few pimples (yay I didn’t get my first zit until age 20; boo I got my first round of acne at age 30), and young looking skin, then she was spot on.
A fun game for me is when someone asks my brother and sister-in-law if they are my parents. Or if my sister is my mother. My brother is only seven years my senior. My sister-in-law and sister are the same age – five years older than me.
Whenever someone used to ask my niece if we were sisters my sister would complain. “I’m technically old enough to be NJ’s (our little sister) mom. But there is no way possible I can be yours!”
I’d smile. “It’s not that I look young,” I’d say getting ready for flight mode. “You just look old.” That’s when I’d run out the door and up the street out of her reach. That sure was a fun game. For me. We haven’t been able to play that game since…well, I no longer run fast or can make it the length of the driveway without needing to take a breather.
There are a few factors I have going for me. For starters, I’m only 5’2” (but I like to round up to 5’4”); I am quiet and what some would refer to as “backwards” (although I’ve always hated that adjective); and finally, my young looking skin (I come by that honestly – the last month of cancer aged my mom more than her previous 70 years). My biggest tattle-tale is when my hair forgets it’s supposed to be pepper without the salt (thanks dad).
I was beginning to think I lost my knack for looking younger. I see the wrinkles in the mirror when I smile. I’m proud of the laugh lines. Not so fond of the vertical crease between my eyebrows though. But on our recent Young Women trip, I was asked by two different people if I was “a leader or one of the girls.” At one time, I would have been embarrassed by such a question. But that day I relished it. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “the girl still got it, mmm-hmm.”
However, my officemate is around to burst my bubble. She received a “remember when” email. It had several pictures of past fads. I have never asked my officemate how old she is. That’s a taboo question for me. The reason being, I had a co-worker at a former job that came up to me and introduced herself. She barely waited for me to say my name when she asked, “Guess how old I am?” I thought it was an odd question so quick out of the gate. Since I suffer from social anxiety, I’m used to awkward conversations. I thought maybe it was my fault again. But after reflecting on it further I realized, nope, that one was on her. So no, I do not ask co-workers their age.
Suffice to say, my officemate is at least 12 years older than me. At the minimum. However, after each picture she showed me she seemed genuinely shocked when I told her that in fact I didn’t know what it was. Before she showed me the last one she said, “Surely, you’ll remember this one.” With that kind of buildup I could feel the pressure. She showed me a picture of some kind of puppet mouse. My brain immediately opened all the files for mouse and puppets but came up empty.
“It’s Senor Wences. From the Ed Sullivan Show!” her voice was tinged with incredulousness.
The Ed Sullivan Show? I have certainly heard of the Ed Sullivan Show but I have never actually watched it. I googled it and found out why. It went off the air two years before I was born. How could I remember something that happened before I was even living? My brother has accused me of having memories before I was born. That was back when I never forgot a thing. I’m living on the other end of the memory spectrum now. I can’t even remember what I did yesterday.
No, I do not remember the Ed Sullivan Show. I’m not that old. Some would even say I look too young to remember Johnny Carson. Let’s listen to those people and ignore the big meanies that think I’m older.
Originally posted April 4, 2012