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This Is How Old I Am

I’ve always been mature for my age, which is really just a euphemistic way of saying I was that weird kid who enjoyed reading Reader’s Digest at the age of ten. Because nothing helps you unwind from a day of learning fractions like reading “How to Tell If You Have a Hidden Thyroid Problem.” (“I have no idea what a thyroid is, but I’m interested!”)

Learning about metabolic issues in the over-40 crowd.

But now? I’ve officially reached the age where I can no longer be precocious about anything. (To paraphrase Bill Bryson, who laments in The Road to Little Dribbling: “I’m too old for early-onset dementia. Any dementia I get will be right on time.”) A few things have happened lately that have made me realize just how adult-y I’m getting to be. For the record, this is not an entirely welcome development.

1. I’m old enough to be submitted for “mom” roles. Whenever I get sent out for a commercial audition, the character is almost always a mom. To be clear, I should in no way be allowed to have anything to do with children. I once gave a pair of toddlers their snack by opening a Costco-sized container of pretzels and setting it on the floor so they could reach it. Yet I’m being asked to read copy featuring women who do things like “yardwork” and “bring snacks to soccer practice.” I still get mad that I have to pack my own lunch now, never mind anyone else’s. Honestly.

Me sourcing lunch.

2. Related: I’m as old as my mom was when she had me. See: me opting to feed children by giving them free reign with a bucket of bulk Snyder’s and also still not being entirely convinced your vagina can really open up that wide.

3. I’m old enough that I could eat ice cream every night for dinner and no one would stop me. That’s actually mildly terrifying if I think about it for too long. Who will make me eat my vegetables?! WHO?! I could never eat broccoli again if I don’t want to! That’s too much power. I would like to give it back.

4. I’m old enough to have to keep track of my credit score. I’m pretty sure Dorian Gray wasn’t averse to aging out of vanity, but rather so he didn’t have to deal with this bullshit.

5. I’m old enough to have a breast cancer scare. You know who doesn’t have to go in for an ultrasound when they find a lump in their breast? Six-year-olds. Because they don’t have any boobs. Related: six-year-olds do not have to go bra shopping, which is commonly acknowledged to be the latest circle in Dante’s hell. I would like to propose that bra shopping be considered a community service fulfillment opportunity for people needing rehabilitation. I can honestly think of nothing more character-building and annoying.

6. I’m old enough to think things like, “I haven’t done that in ten years.” I was running past some tennis courts the other day, and I thought, I haven’t played tennis since high school. And then I thought, Which was ten years ago. Then I keeled over in despair on the Lake Shore trail and had to be revived by a hot shirtless jogger bringing me a cold brew from Intelligentsia.

7. I’m old enough to be older than the girls guys leave older women for. Like, when I watch TV shows or movies, and they’re like, “He left her for a twenty-one-year-old,” I used to think, Well that’s a proper adult, isn’t it? Now I think, “legal pedophilia.”

8. I’m older than Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. I can’t get over how young Reese Witherspoon actually is in that movie. Maybe because I always thought being taken seriously in a court of law and being friends with your manicurist seemed impossibly sophisticated.

9. I’m old enough for the buck to stop with me, sometimes. At one point in my life, literally the only thing I could be held responsible for was be failing to make my bed. Now, who knows what I’ve agreed to in various leases and contracts? I could be liable for anything.

10. I’m old enough to tell kids to “enjoy college while it lasts.” Because then your student loans come due and you have to go into Witness Protection like Mary Kate and Ashley in Our Lips Are Sealed and what do you mean you don’t understand that reference?

11. Speaking of: I’m old enough for my favorite television shows to have revivals. Will and Grace? Gilmore Girls? The Magic School Bus? They’ve all been off the air long enough to generate excitement around a return to the air. And not just because I’ve forgotten how the digestive system works.

12. I’m old enough to pay attention to anti-aging products in magazines. Fuck, now I have to figure out what retinol does.

So what does that all mean, exactly? What it always has: that, in spite of mass opposition, life moves inexorably forward. (It’s actually the most undemocratic rule of nature.) The years pass too quickly to spend them any other way than exactly how you want to: kids or no kids, climbing the career ladder or just paying the bills while in pursuit of creativity, watching illuminating documentaries or marveling at how Megan Mullally still looks the goddamn same as she did in 2008 what the hell?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed outside to see if any civic-minded hotties are passing out coffee.

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