You Know You’re Getting Old When…

For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated with people’s ages. More often than not, it’s a decent conversation starter, especially in my chosen field of youth ministry. Once I learn a teenager’s age, I can guesstimate what grade he or she is in…and away we go!

It’s also a proven conversation ender…especially when asking a female who you’ve just met. Sadly, I’ve actually done that before.

And I’ve always wondered for females…what is the age where a woman would like to be known as “younger” than they actually are? I think it’s fair to say that is teenage girls, they would like to be known as older than they actually are. It’s a sign that they look and/or act mature. But there must be a switch-over somewhere, as I can’t imagine a woman being impressed with someone saying to them: “Oh, you’re only 35? I thought you were over 40!!!” Sadly, I think I’ve said that before too. So where is that magical cut-off age? 19? 25? 30? 65?

Only once in my entire life has someone guessed that I was older than I actually was. Usually, people will come in at anywhere between 3 – 10 years younger than my actual age. The worst one was way back in the late 90s at my home parish of St. Paul in Richmond. A relatively newer female teen handed me a note with her name and number on it, with a big heart decorating the whole paper.

Being naïve, I said to her “Oh, so are you looking for more info about LIFE TEEN (the youth ministry we used and still use at the parish)?”

“LIFE TEEN?” she replied, “What’s that?”

I started to get a funny feeling in my stomach. “Uh…how old do you think I am?” I asked.

“14 or 15?”

“Thanks for the compliment…I think.” And with that, I walked away, not sure how to take the fact that she undershot me by 8 or 9 years!

As an aside, I think that the note still stands as the only love note that I’ve ever received. But that’s for another (sad) blog.

I guess I could chalk it up to my boyish good-looks or my wide-eyed charm. But who am I trying to kid? It’s because back then I acted like a 15 year-old. I’m better now…I act at least 17 years-old.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called “Age Ain’t Nothin But a Number”. In it, I reflected upon my first 32 years of existence and took a look at what I had accomplished or not accomplished, depending on your perspective. A lot has changed in the past 24 months: we have a beautiful daughter, Sean has received First Communion, and Jake is at St. Paul School. Not all things have changed though: my lovely wife Gail is still a saint and the undeniable rock of our household.

As for me, I can’t take the late nights as well as I used to (despite the timestamp of this blog…haha) and it takes me a little longer to recover from strenuous exercise. And I’m starting to have the occasional brain lapse.

Earlier today, Gerard (yet another looks-younger-than-he-actually-is-type-of-guy) and I were talking at the YMO about summer plans and he asked me what I planned to do for my birthday in a couple of weeks.

“Nothing planned” I replied. “Probably going to do something big next year when I turn 35.”

My statement was met with an awkward silence. Now, silence is certainly ok (although rare when Gerard and I are together), but this one was a different type of silence. I could almost hear the gears in Gerard’s head clicking. So I continued:

“Maybe I’m getting more humble as I get older.”

Still more silence. I shifted nervously as I stared at my buddy. He broke the silence about 5 seconds later:

“Aren’t you turning 35 THIS year?”

The silence became raucous laughter as we together celebrated my absent-mindedness. This one wasn’t even about denial. It was all about me not knowing how old I am!

I said good-bye and left for my car but barely made it to the hallway before I turned around.

“Hey G…I’m just curious. Did you remember I was turning 35 because I’m 2 years younger than you and you remembered you’re turning 37?”

“Yeah….and I know you’re the same age as Gen and she’s turning 35 this year as well.”

Still smiling, I said, “Thanks for looking out for me, man.”

Gerard proclaimed: “That’s what best buds are for!”

Guess I should start planning now for my 40th!


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