All my life I have looked younger than my years. I was never one of those teenagers who looks twentysomething before reaching school-leaving age; rather I was a twentysomething who still looked like a teenager. Maybe it was due to my habitually unmade-up face or my persistent student uniform of jeans and t-shirt well beyond my student years, or maybe there really is such a thing as good genes. Of course, there’s always my parents’ theory that my lack of wrinkles is due to the fact that I barely smiled throughout my adolescence.
Whatever the reason, for a long time it certainly wasn’t a state of affairs I was especially happy with. Whilst living away from home for the first time at polytechnic (using that word in itself is enough to make me feel old) I tried to rent a video with a 14 rating (again, feeling old – that’s three outmoded concepts in one sentence) and was asked for ID. A few years later and reluctantly living back at home, when catching a bus I was asked if I needed a half fare – yes, that would be the ones for children aged 14 and under…
Being under the impression at the time that I was definitely a grown up at this stage of my life, I was quite offended by these innocent queries and their associated assumptions. Oh the irony. A few years down the line I would no doubt have been thrilled to bits to be asked the same questions.
Still, while I am no longer subject to age-related ID checks, I have over the years been left in no doubt as to the apparent youthfulness of my appearance, the latest confirmation of which I received earlier this week at work.
An appointment with an Independent Financial Adviser about our company pension scheme may not sound the most interesting or of scenarios, but he was a very pleasant guy and I’m not a big fan of formality so it was more of a chat than a meeting. Which is probably why when I said I had worked there for over 12 years he blurted out that I must be a lot older than I look. I’m not one of those women who is coy about revealing her age (what’s the point?) so I told him directly that I was 38. The look on his face was absolutely priceless – stunned disbelief doesn’t even begin to cover it. The ensuing conversation went something like this.
“I won’t embarrass you by telling you how old I thought you were.” Although I couldn’t think why it would.
“As long as it was twentysomething, I don’t mind.” (Feeble joke I know, sorry.)
Rather shamefacedly: “Actually, it was…”
It did occur to me afterwards that I could have taken offence at his obvious incredulity at my age; I mean, 38 isn’t THAT old, surely? On the other hand, this does give me a clue as to why Alice doesn’t think I look like a proper grown up most of the time. But I think I’ll take the odd backhanded compliment over the alternative, especially as I seem to have unaccountably reached an age when looking younger than my years is finally a blessing rather than a curse.