It’s been a good week. Actually, it’s been great. I caught up with old friends, the spot on my left cheek has finally gone, and I received an offer to study post-graduate journalism next year. Great news all round.
But, here’s the ‘but’…
Two things happened to me this week that I found to be quite baffling. Not baffling enough to have ruined my week, but baffling enough to have given me a reason (make that two) to express concern.
A few days ago at work, I was wrapping a beautiful ceramic vase for an elderly man to give to his wife for Christmas. In typical retail assistant fashion, I maintained small talk about the weather (raining) and plans for the remainder of the day (nothing). I complimented the man on his wonderful gift selection, as well as his impressive level of organisation in undergoing Christmas shopping in early November. This was our conversation:
“Aren’t you organised! One down and it’s only November!”
“I’ve gotta be. We’ve got seven kids and eighteen grandkids so there’s a lot of presents to buy.”
“Wow, eighteen grandkids! And I thought I had lots of presents to buy!”
“How many little tackers do you have running around at home?”
For my international readers (all three of you), ‘tacker’ is Australian lingo for ‘child’. This seemingly lovely gentleman asked me how many children I have. Not whether I have any children, but rather how many. This man genuinely thought upon looking at me, that I might have multiple children. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of women (and men) my age (twenty-three), and younger, have children. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I have incredible admiration for young adults who are capable of raising children considering that at the age of twenty-three, I am incapable of raising myself.
But the man’s question got me hot and bothered. Do I actually look like someone who has birthed not just one ‘tacker’, but multiple? Do I look like a tired mother who runs after kids all day cleaning up poo? Has gravity already taken its hold? Does this mean that when I’m forty I’ll look fifty? Is it time to invest in some L’Oréal face-cream to fight the seven signs of ageing? Am I doomed?
I guess it could have been worse; he could have asked me if I was pregnant.
Oh wait – it does get worse.
I forgot all about the before-mentioned situation until the early hours of Monday morning (the fact that I went out on a Sunday night and didn’t get home until 4am on Monday should be proof enough that I am not ready to have children). Upon leaving the club at a modest hour as I had work on Monday at 10am, I accompanied my friend while he sat on the footpath eating a yiros (aka ‘gyros’ or ‘doner kebab’). Not wanting to sit on the piss and vomit-covered ground, I squatted next to him. A few minutes later, a strange woman walked up to us. She must have been about forty years old, not that her age is of any relevance. As my friend ate his yiros, oblivious to the world around him and the meat juices running down his forearms, the woman asked me if the young man next to me was my son. I repeat: son.
I understand how a newborn child, or perhaps a toddler, might be mistaken for mine. But the fact that this woman had mistaken a twenty-five year old as my own, means she thought I was a woman somewhere between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five. In other words, my mother’s age. I laughed, as did my friend, but deep down I was appalled. (We then joked that we were actually brother and sister to which the woman’s response was “I see the resemblance! You sound the same”. This is also slightly disconcerting as my friend has a slight lisp – albeit a cute one.) If my being mistaken for a twenty-five year old’s mother hadn’t appalled me enough, why would a barefoot fifty-five year old (me) and her son be sitting on a footpath at 4am on a Monday morning, eating yiros? Now I’m no mother, but I’m responsible enough to recognise that that would be bad parenting.
I’m not afraid of ageing. In fact, I’m excited to grow older and more mature and to (hopefully) get my life in some sort of order. I don’t mind being mistaken for being a few years older than I am, but being mistaken for two decades older is pretty much the furthest thing from a compliment. Kind of like someone telling you that you look tired, which is really just a nice way of saying that you look like absolute shit. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry about these accidental insults, so instead I’ve blogged about them.
Please, tell me I’m not the only one out there to have been insulted in such a way…twice?