Sixteen

3 Sep

The most bizarre thing keeps happening to me.  Okay, probably not the most bizarre thing ever to happen to anyone, and maybe not even the most bizarre thing to ever happen to me.  But, I just don’t understand it, and it’s happened three times in this past week.

I’m a twenty-six year old, and I’ve been happily married for two years now to an amazing man.  I’m five-foot-nine and not your average twig.  Only the rule-following waiters card me when I order wine (as they should, of course).  Not only did I graduate — from college — five and a half years ago, I came to college back in 2000.  To put it in more drastic terms?  This year’s college freshmen (Who are what, eighteen-ish years of age?  More?  Less?) were about nine years old when I started my college journey.

So WHY do people keep asking me if I’m a freshman in college?

I’ll excuse the first transgressor, even though I shouldn’t.  It’s perfectly logical to assume someone who wants to purchase a book called Welcome to College is, indeed, a freshman.  Except, of course, when the person who’s buying it has just explained, “I’m leading a group of girls who will be taking some freshmen through this book this year; I need to know what’s in it.”  No, sir, I’m not just starting college, and by the way, did you hear a word I just said?  Didn’t think so.

The next girl, I can (kind of) understand, too.  It was dark.  It was crowded.  It was loud.  I’m with my petite friend Kristin, who introduces me to a girl she knows, a senior in college.  Wide-eyed, the girl says to me, “Can you believe Kristin’s twenty-seven?”  Kristin informs her that I am almost the same age.  The girl studies me, then exclaims, “No way!  I totally thought you were a freshman!”  She laughs. I sigh.  People tell me this will be a great compliment one day.

There is no excuse for what happened today.  

I’m writing my novel at La Madeleine again, on my nifty white MacBook with a red file folder out on the table beside it.  It’s bright, my wedding ring is visible, I even tried to dress all sophisticated so I wouldn’t be mistaken for a freshman again.  It didn’t work.  The lady at the next table turns to me and starts a conversation that goes like this:

Lady: Having a good day?

Me: Oh, yes, very productive, thanks.

Lady: So, are you in college?

Me: No, actually.

Lady: Oh!  You’re about to start college, then?

Me: [Awkward pause.  Incredulous disbelief.]  Actually, you are the third person this week who’s thought I’m a freshman.  I graduated back in 2004.

Lady: [Does math in her head.  Jaw drops.] From college?  You’re kidding.  I thought you were sixteen before I asked, actually!

Sixteen?  Sixteen?  I don’t get it, I really don’t.  I know some people who get mistaken for the students they teach on a fairly regular basis, but me?  Not so much.  Ever.  Not until this past week, anyway.  I don’t know what I’m doing differently as of late, maybe I need a haircut or something, but this needs to stop. 

The woman made up for her mistake by telling me (rather sincerely, I might add) she thought I looked like an Abercrombie & Fitch model.  I feel better knowing her judgment is just that terrible, since no one in her right mind would mistake me for one of those.  That must mean I don’t look sixteen, either.

Agh.  I guess this is just another reminder that everyone has their own different perceptions of the world around them.  It just so happens I met three people who have the same different perceptions of me, all in the same week.

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5 Responses to “Sixteen”

  1. sherrymeneley Thursday / 3 September 09 at 6:58 pm #

    LOL – great post! I know you don’t think this is great – but it is, TRUST ME. I’m in my 4th decade now and up until a couple years ago I was being carded regularly. At the time it irritated the heck out of me… “sheesh, don’t these people know I’m 35, yeah my skin is good but come on, I look over 21”.

    There are the sales people in Macys/Nordstroms that suspiciously “eye me” because I look too young to be interested in whatever I’m looking at (lingerie, jewelry, wrinkle creams, etc…). I’m sure they presume I’m going to steal something based on the strong feelings of “Big Brother is watching you” stares they project towards me.

    The best is when a phone sales person asks if my “mom or dad” is home…I suppose I not only look, but sound young.

    That was then. Now I miss that stuff. It still happens on an odd day when as you put it a “rule-following waiter” is compelled to card you even when you are clearly someone’s grandma.

    So I won’t tell you to enjoy it – I’ll just say you don’t know whatcha got till it’s gone.

    • owlandsparrow Thursday / 3 September 09 at 7:08 pm #

      Haha, you are so right. I’d better enjoy it while it lasts! 🙂 I’m really not too bent out of shape over it, I just think it’s so strange that I’ve never gotten it that much until this past week, when it happened thrice!

  2. Laura Best Friday / 4 September 09 at 4:07 pm #

    Believe me when you get to be my age you’ll take these things as compliments…I’m constantly being mistaken at my daughter’s workplace as her sister but hey, I’m under five feet and they are obviously not looking too closely. Hehe

  3. teachmelife Sunday / 6 September 09 at 7:39 pm #

    So this is the first weekend, I have had some time to sit down and do some lazy and fun reading. So i decided to come on your blog and give it a read. I love your posts. You often speak about everyday things and yet the way you write it is elegant in the way that a descriptive writer who understands how to connect to her readers.

    I also like the lightness you have in the ups and downs in life. It reminds me that although I’m pursuing my dreams, like you are, in a serious way that at the end of the day i cant take everything in my life too too serious.

    Keep writing, because i can say for myself, i genuinely enjoy it. Also I would like to know what your goals are for your novel and what its about.

    And thanks for reading my blog. It means a lot.

    Zack Kendall

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 8 September 09 at 5:55 pm #

      Okay, seriously? Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my posts and leave a little encouragement for me to find. Your words were timely and effective, in the midst of a sorta long weekend, and they made my day.

      My goals for my novel: to make a piece of young adult fiction that is well-crafted, that has a strong & adventurous plot, that exposes the strengths and weaknesses of humanity through my characters as they go through life. I hope it will be something middle schoolers want to read, and I hope it appeals to more than just that age. I’d rather it be well written than quickly written. I think the easiest way to describe ‘what it’s about’ is that it follows four very different kids (2 guys, 2 girls, the same ages as my target reader) through mysterious, adventurous circumstances. There’s nothing inherently original in what I just described; it’s the quirks of the characters, and the mysterious, adventurous circumstances, that make it special in its own right. 🙂

      I plan to keep writing. It’s nice to know there are people (other than my husband and myself) who would like to keep reading. Thanks for being one of them.

      I’ll visit your blog again soon, as I like it very much, too! You’ve got a lot of wisdom and I like the way you share it.

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