I turn 21 in October. I realize it is far too early to start talking about and/or planning for this birthday, I only bring it up because this fact is important in providing some perspective on my experience today. I have really been looking forward to being 21 because I will finally be able to go to bars. The bar atmosphere is probably not really my scene, and drinking isn't really my thing either, however, the fact that I am not allowed to enter certain buildings just beacuse I have not reached a certain age pre-decided by some legislators somewhere...well that really gets me. I hate being limited in any way by my age, it's just a number! But after age 21, there's really only one more age barrier to cross...that being age 65 when I'll be allowed to get Senior Citizen discounts. Sweet! The point of all that is to say I have never been afraid of aging, I embraced it, whenever I got asked that 'If you had one wish...' question I would answer, without hesitation, that I would like to fast-forward my life, TiVo style, to age 55. Today though, today might just have changed my entire outlook on the slow process of decay we call aging.
As I was walking out of Harmons, the grocer in my neighborhood, a blonde, high-school-senior-looking guy was walking in pushing several carts. (I have included a rough depiction of said guy here. I couldn't find an actual picture that quite matched his look so I created this approximate but well-done representation.) He had quite a load from his chore of cart collecting so I moved all the way to one side to let him pass more easily. As we made eye contact he smiled, always a nice thing, especially from a fairly attractive guy, and then, it spoke. "Have a wonderful day ma'am," it said. I smiled back thinking "That was a nice of him." But when I reached my car, I paused, "I believe he just called me ma'am. That boy, that nice-looking one who I made eye contact with and with whom I exchanged smiles, he called me ma'am." I spent the entire car ride home attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that I had just been "ma'am"ed. At first I attributed his confusion to the fact that I had just come from work, and was looking fairly professional. But while I was dressed for work, I was wearing jeans...so I couldn't have looked professional enough to merit a 'ma'am'. I looked in the mirror, "Is it my hair?" but I couldn't find anything in my hair that merited a 'ma'am' either. I checked for wisdom lines (wrinkles), "I know I get some creases after I've been making my concentration face for awhile, maybe they stuck longer than usual," although after inspection I could see no signs that the creases were becoming more permanent.
I'm utterly puzzled, and I would ask for ideas on why I might have been mistaken for a 'ma'am', but I don't think my self-esteem can take it. The conclusion I have come to is that this boy somehow made a terrible mistake, and I don't want it to happen again anytime soon. No senior citizen discounts for me thanks, no wisdom lines, no golden years, at least not yet. I'm no 'ma'am'. I'm 20! And I like it that way.