I am always hesitant to answer when someone asks that loaded question: “Guess how old I am?” and I err on the side of caution when making a guesstimate for fear of insulting them by pitching too high.
It’s a bit like when you think twice about whether you should offer someone your seat on the bus just in case they’re not expecting at all but have just eaten too many pies. One family member got all indignant a few years ago when she was offered a pensioner discount at a restaurant – as she hadn’t even turned 60.
Even though she would have paid less for her meal, she argued her case and told them in no uncertain terms she was nowhere near being a pensioner thank you very much and she would pay full price. But who knew aiming too low could rake up a whole other set of problems. Many people – admittedly women in particular – are chuffed to bits when people think they look more youthful than their birth certificate tells them.
But there are circumstances when being mistaken as too young is not a good thing … usually when it comes to being refused alcohol when you haven’t any ID. One friend, who has a real baby face and has had all her life, confessed that when she was 18 and looked about 12, she wanted the ground to swallow her up when she went on a date and was handed the children’s menu.
However, on the whole, most of us take it as a compliment when strangers think they’re younger than they actually are. And with all the potions out there promising eternal youth, some people actually strive and dedicate time and money into turning the clock back. Why is it when we’re younger, we’re constantly trying to look older than we are – only for when we reach adulthood to try to reverse the ageing process?
Being short while growing up I was used to being regularly mistaken for being younger than my years. I even remember once answering the door to a salesman soon after getting married to be asked: “Are your parents at home?”
“No.” I replied. “They’re 200 miles away – in their own home!