Friday, September 19, 2008

Acting my age

I have a birthday approaching. I won't tell you how old I'm going to be. It will be a good number, though. A fifth power. My age won't ever be a fifth power again. Therefore, it will be a year to appreciate.

People often misjudge my age. Too high and too low.

I think it started in grad school. In my church group as a new, 21 year old grad student, I found that nearly all the women grad students seemed to have decided upon grad school after realizing they were not married yet and had no good prospects.

That's not a very nice thing to say. Let me rephrase that.

When I started grad school, I found that nearly all the other women grad students seemed to have had other priorities than school when they were 21, and were coming back to grad school several years later. Needless to say, at 21 I felt extremely young around these women.

Many of the men in said church group assumed I also must be old and passed over. That is the only way I can explain why none of them would have asked me out. I mean, me, right? Me? I was single at the time. They could have done it. And then they could have told their friends they went out with me. Someday. When I am famous.

Actually, one guy did ask me out. He found out early on in the evening that I was a grad student, not a freshman, and he turned very red and nearly choked. In the sentence in which I identified myself as a grad student, I went from cute, nervous freshman in his mind to ugly wart-ridden old lady grad student. He was very chivalrous. He didn't immediately take me home.

So here we are a few years later (ahem), and I am approaching a fifth power in age. I am no longer single, but still as good a catch as ever, even if caught (hook, line, and sinker), and feeling very youthful.

Except around grad students. I have been out of grad school for four years now, and somewhat remarkably, I left with a PhD. When I meet grad students, they are happy to look upon me as friendly face, fellow traveler. Until they find out I already have a PhD. Then, I see myself change in their eyes. I turn from fellow traveler to ugly wart-ridden old lady with a PhD. I am very, very old -- aged beyond the furthest reaches of their imaginations. For I have actually Finished.

On the other hand, here I am in Germany, mostly among people who have had PhD's much longer than I. A lady at dinner a couple of nights ago commented that "all the young people will speak" at this conference. Someone commented that there weren't many young people at the conference. And then all eyes at the table turned to me (except, of course, mine). They asked if I had my talk ready. In fact, I did. And in fact, I am. Very young, that is. Very young in my career. We're talking kindergarten. Not even tweens yet. And yes, I have since given my talk.

Lest all this talk of being young get to my head, I also should recall another incident that happened yesterday. I had a photo taken for a directory a week ago, and yesterday the proofs were available to view online. Although the pictures were small, I could still see them. There, at the corner of my smile, very clear, were wrinkles. Real, ugly, wart-ridden old lady wrinkles. That's right. Oil of Olay was right. They said I would get wrinkles without their product, and I never bought their product, and I did. I did get those wrinkles. So here we are, my age approaching a fifth power, and I definitely have wrinkles. And I definitely have a PhD. Does it get any older than that? Really?

So happy birthday to me (soon). Sign me up for that AARP card.

1 comment:

Letterpress said...

They don't let people your age into AARP. You have to be at least 40, and last I checked that's not any x I know to the power of 5.

Actually while I lay in bed today with a bad cold, I figured out your age.

Happy Birthday, Fabulosa!