The Age Disconnect

I am getting ready to hit one of those birthdays I always thought meant I was old, but am now reevaluating.  This is not my first time doing something like this. I can remember at 18 feeling sorry for those cracking 30 because I felt there could be nothing redeeming about hitting that age. I was convinced it would be so terrible, I should live my life to the utmost in my 20s and not care what people thought.

I can tell you my conservative father was not wild about this attitude although looking back, he really did support me to the best of his ability.

I did some cool things and some crazy things during those years, but all those experiences got me ready not to be scared to try something new which served me well throughout life.

Being blessed with a babyface and a ridiculous drive to hit the gym five times a week, play pick-up basketball whenever I could and run a couple miles almost every day, by the time I hit 30, few people believed I was in my third decade.

In fact, on my 30th birthday I was at a bar with a bunch of friends and fiancee where I got carded. I actually thought it was a joke my wife-to-be Tina and buddies had cooked up. The bartender was adamant I produce my ID and would not let anyone vouch for me. I was a bartender at the time and told this lovely lady, `”I know everyone should have an ID, but I had left mine at home because I knew I wasn’t driving and figured if I got drunk, my wallet was safe at home.” I was living with Tina and she had brought us here.

The bartender said my reasoning didn’t matter. She told me point blank, she wasn’t convinced I was 21 and definitely didn’t believe I was 30.

Aww…. come on.

I had to leave my own birthday party and go about 20 miles back home to get my proof. I got tons of ribbing from my friends when I got back and to this bartender’s credit, she bought me my first drink telling me I should be happy I looked so young.

I have a few funny stories of being carded when I was in my 30s, and even 40s, but the best one, in my opinion, happened while I was married and around 32 or maybe even 33.

Tina was six years younger than me. Ex-husband bias aside, she really was one of the types of women that turned heads when we walked into places. Tina carried herself more mature than her age. She actually bartended at a top notch hotel in D.C. when she was 20 when you had to be 21, and none of her bosses suspected anything. 

Anyway, back to my amusing moment. 

We were visiting my mother and stepfather who had a house on a lake in Virginia. Tina’s kid brother, who was 15 at the time, was with us. The folks had jet skis and the three of us were on the water for several hours.

My mother was preparing dinner and asked us to go to the little store down the road to get some wine coolers. A good time to reiterate we were just coming off the water. Fred, her brother, and myself were wearing board shorts and tank tops. We also had baseball caps on. Tina was in shorts and a shirt that covered her bikini top that made her look sporty and a bit elegant. 

Fred and I were scruffy at best.

The place to buy the liquor was a little beat up and definitely local. Tina told Fred and I to wait in the car because she knew I got lost looking at things in stores shopping. I look at everything and weigh my choices whereas Tina was the type who could be in and out in less than a couple minutes.

While Fred and I were talking, I decided we should grab some beer because my stepfather was more partial to that beverage. Fred decided to go in with me to get snacks. 

I saw Tina making the purchase as I went back to the cooler and got my six pack.  Fred and I walked up together, so there was definitely this kid who wasn’t old enough to drink with me. Anyway, the guy at the register who was probably a little younger than me, probably Tina’s age, asks for my ID.

Tina, who was waiting for us nearby, heard the request. She came over and asked the guy why he was carding me when he didn’t card her. I won’t ever forget him telling her, she looked old enough and I didn’t.

His response didn’t please her.

She lost her composure to some degree as she started telling the poor guy I was six years older than her and he was a terrible judge of age. I kept my smiling to a minimum but it was really at that moment I knew, I really was blessed in looking younger than my age to most people.

Fred was laughing out loud which didn’t really help the situation, but it did add to the humor of the situation..

The ride back to my folks’ place was Tina fuming about her not getting carded.

No lie.

She made Fred and myself promise not to tell my parents.

We didn’t but years later when Fred and I met, he asked if I remembered the time.

Obviously I did.

As time passes, getting more years under my belt has not really been a bad thing overall. Weight definitely doesn’t come off as easy and I don’t run like I used to. 

Not even close. 

My mother once said something fairly prophetic to me as she was turning 40 which quite honestly I didn’t understand, but I do now.

“Mike, I don’t pay attention to birthdays and the age associated with them. I always think of myself as 29 and that is how I feel and act. I think all people have an age they stay at in their mind no matter how old they are.”

Well I definitely feel older than 29 but it would not be far off to say late 30s, early 40s is where I have this disconnect with my real age.

The mirror might argue this with me because a baby face can only take you so far. But at this point, I haven’t noticed much of a slow down with my physical activity and I am grateful.

I bet there are a lot of people who younger generations might consider old, that disconnect from their actual age because they just feel younger. 

So as the birthday approaches I always thought of as making me verging on ancient, I embrace it and look forward to seeing how much longer I can fool myself and Father Time into thinking I am a lot younger.


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