Barely Legal

It was flattering when the barber (“my Robert”) thought that I was my father-in-law’s seventeen-year-old niece. And when he was a little taken aback to find out that I had skipped my ten year high school reunion last year. And it’s kind of nice to get carded. Pretty much all the time. Whether I have a baby on my hip or not. And the other day, I was chatting with a customer at the baby store about our eight-month-old sons, and she commented that I must have gotten married quite young. Going on to say that I looked about seventeen when I asked her to clarify the former statement. Of course, I said thank you, that no, actually I’m twenty-nine.

I don’t feel like I look that young. Early 20s, sure, I can see how I might be able to pull that off. But seventeen? Really? I suppose I should just shut the hell up and be flattered, but I have earned those twelve years, and it is kind of disconcerting when I feel more mature and adult than I ever have before (which is still not entirely mature and grown-up, but still nothing to scoff at).

Seventeen is the thing to be, though, according to the media, who have taken it upon themselves to bring sexy to little children who have no idea what to do with it. So in its way, I’m sure seventeen is a compliment to the nth degree as far as looks are concerned. But seventeen is also young, naive, immature, inexperienced. Seventeen is hard to take seriously. Seventeen is invincible with nothing to lose. Seventeen has its time and place. For me, that time and place are in the past.

I’m not saying I’m offended when people say I look young. It’s definitely a good thing to look young in a culture that places youth so high up on its pedestal you can barely see it from twenty-nine, which still seems pretty young if you ask this twenty-nine year old. I just have to wonder if my young look is only skin deep or if my whole personality and attitude comes off that youthful, too. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a few things in the twelve years since seventeen. And it wouldn’t really bother me if the stuff I’ve lived and learned showed a little on the outside, too.

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