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.