Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Many “Middles” In Middle-Aged?

I’ve been thinking lately about age, and the simple idea of growing older.

And a recent trip to the grocery store...where you can learn so much if you just listen, right?...put a bit of a new twist on things for me.

I snuck into the checkout line with a dozen or so items after a day of activities and the goal of getting home and crossing a few things off of my To-Do list, and walked into the middle of a conversation between the checkout girl and a couple in front of me.

“…oh, I know, I just don’t like getting old,” was the first thing I heard the checkout girl say as I started to unload my items onto the conveyor belt.

“You’re not old,” said the lady in front of me.

“Hmm, but I feeeel old,” the girl emphasized.

“You can’t be that old.”

“I’m older than I look.”

Here’s where I decided to quietly join the game, and looked up and gave the checkout girl a quick glance. Twenty-four, maybe 25, I thought to myself, giving it my best guess.

“How old are you?” asked the customer.

“I’m 20,” said the girl.

Whoops. I guess I was off by a year or two or five.

If she’s older than she looks, as she said, I wondered if she thought she looked 17? Eighteen?

“Ack!” scoffed the lady. “You’re not even old enough to go to a bar.”

“I still do!” the girl boasted, a lilt of pride almost visible in her voice.

So at first, she was trying to convince the lady how old she felt, and in the next breath she was almost bragging that she was able to sneak into bars under age.

“You’re not old,” the lady returned to her original argument.

“I’m middle-middle-aged!” retorted the girl.

I had no plans to enter this conversation, realizing the futility of arguing with a girl who claims she’s “old” at 20. But I made a quick mental note of that new phrase, and wondered if I could even punctuate it correctly when I wrote about her on my blog. Because she was most. definitely. blog material.

The lady insisted once again that the girl was far from old, and the girl proudly repeated her rank on the aging scale.

“I’m middle-middle-aged!”

Ah, yes. I remember when I was middle-middle-aged. Back in the day when I had to...find someone old enough to buy me beer.

The age question is one I’ve been pondering off and on lately. Not obsessing over, mind you, but...recognizing.

According to the checkout girl’s timeline, I officially become “middle-aged” in about a week and a half.

The number isn’t really bothering me as much as I’m saying it is, because age is just a number, right? And a small-talk conversation in a checkout line.

I’ll be turning that number in Las Vegas, where I think there’s an unwritten rule that on your birthday you don’t turn a year older, but instead turn two or three years younger.

I just made that up. But I plan to stay there until it comes true, and I rewind back to about my mid-20s.

So fine. I’m soon going to be middle-aged. (that one I at least know how to punctuate.)

But aside from a few (hundred) gray hairs, I look...and act...younger than I am.

Does that counter-logic work as well for bloggers as it does for checkout girls? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

“Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.”
—Bob Dylan

1 comment:

  1. two comments, one depressing/morbid and one happy/life affirming.

    so, the other day one of my friends introduced me to the concept of "the ruler of life." you stretch out a tape measure to the average life span, say 80, 90, whatever. then, you mark off your current age, which then shows how much of your life you've already lived (wasted/enjoyed/etc.). eek.

    one the other hand, i say age is as much attitude as number. some days i might feel my "real" age of 35, or 17, or 45...i average it out at 28. old enough to not be *so* clueless, young enough to be hopeful. i say, pick a number you like and go with it...redefine "middle-aged":)