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I’ve been playing social netball with a workmate and a bunch of his friends. We all get along really well at netball, so we decided to get together for a cocktail party to celebrate making it to the semifinals. On Friday night, the cocktails flowed and so did the conversation. One conversation of particular interest was the team’s amazement at my tender age of 22. It turns out that they are all in their mid-late 20s, and assumed that I was the same age.

I just brushed the comments off, as all of my life I’ve been told I look and act older than I am (this was a real bonus when I entered my first pub at 14!) But, on Saturday morning (OK afternoon!) when my hangover allowed me to do not much more then blob on the couch and frustrate myself with my own thoughts, I realized that perhaps I’m getting to the age when it’s not so great to be told I look older than I am? Where do we draw the line between it being cool to look older, and just not cool at all?

After reassurance from my 24-year-old boyfriend that I looked younger than him, I decided perhaps it was just the alcohol that made my teammates think I look like I am older than I am. A terrifying incident this afternoon made me think again.

I’m a sales rep and the nature of the business means that a lot of time is spent sitting in waiting rooms with other reps waiting to see our buyer. This afternoon I was happily reading the latest trade magazine when Mr Watties came in and tried to start up conversation.

”What’s that you’re reading?” he asked. “Not the latest Dolly magazine?”

“Dolly!” I snorted. “I haven’t read that since I was a teeny-bopper! I’m reading Grocer’s Review actually.”

And I went back to my reading. But Mr Watties wasn’t finished with me yet.

“Ha! You’re the first woman I’ve met that doesn’t leap at the chance to be told they look younger than they are.”

“Well, I’m not a teenager!” I said. “I haven’t read Dolly in years. I didn’t realize I looked that young!”

“Oh, I think you look pretty young. You’re pulling off...oh...say 25-26, pretty well?”

Twenty Five? Twenty Six? Pulling it off?! Was this guy for real?

“I’m 22 actually,” I said. Mr Watties laughed. I shot him a dirty look.

“Oh...you’re being serious?” he asked, blushing the colour of his Spaghetti packaging. “Now I’m in trouble! I thought I was giving you a compliment. I thought you were thirty or so. I suppose I’ll just shut up now then.”

Hmph! I thought. (Or perhaps I said it?) “Yes might pay to…not a good idea to tell a girl she looks older than she is!” My trade magazine was looking a lot more interesting than further conversation with this idiot!

“Twenty two ah?” Mr Watties marveled, shaking his head in what looked like disbelief. “Ha!” I shot him another dirty look.

“Oh I suppose it’s just the industry,” Mr Watties said, hastily covering his tracks. “Not many young people in this industry are there?”

“No,” I agreed, with a pointed stare; “Most reps are middle aged or older.”

Realising I was referring to his pot belly and wrinkly eyes, Mr Watties finally turned his attention to his laptop.

So, twice in one week, I’ve been told I look a lot older than I am. What could have brought this on? Perhaps it’s my hair – I’ve been growing out my fringe recently, maybe it’s aging me by the day? Or perhaps the popular brand of moisturizer I sell isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? For the first time in my life, I don’t want to be told I’m looking older. Crickey, next thing people will be asking me when I’m going to get married and have babies!

To drown my sorrows, I decided to pick up a bottle of Chardonnay from the supermarket on the way home. I didn’t get asked for ID. The sign on the checkout counter says “Please don’t be offended if you look under 25 and get asked for ID. It’s our policy to ask.”

Please excuse me while I enjoy my third glass of wine. If I look old already, I may as well have fun doing it!

By pink 20-Jul-2006
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