People tell me this a lot. That I look young. It often occurs after we have been talking for a few minutes already… in the pharmacy check-out line, at a coffee shop, on an airplane. Then I say something about how I taught for thirteen years or graduated from UT in 1999 or saw Back to the Future in the theater, and they lean back a little, do some math in their head, and say, “Wow. You do not look that old.” And I say thank you. Then there is sometimes a bit of awkwardness as the person realizes they were just treating me like a child a couple of minutes ago.
|I'm very thankful to have been born in time for Back to the Future.|
The Beholder May Need Contacts
Although it is certainly nice to be told that I look young, I don’t actually believe that LOOKS have a whole lot to do with it. People age you based on a lot of things and the way you look is just one of them. Marital status, children, clothing, and manner of speaking have just as much impact on the number their brain generates as the smoothness of your skin. I am married but have no children. People assume that married people all want to have kids, so they adjust my age down, thinking I haven’t had them YET. I have been married less than three years. Again, people still think most couples get married in their twenties, so they adjust again. And, lastly, I am silly. I make jokes and say dumb things and giggle. People adjust down a third time for my immaturity. So, by the time I tell them that I graduated high school in 1995, they have already decided that a silly newlywed with no children like me can’t possibly be over 25 or 26, and boom-- they are shocked. This is an entertaining moment. Sometimes, if you look really closely, you can actually see yourself aging in their eyes. It’s kinda like when that guy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade drank from the wrong Holy Grail, but slower and with less skull-crumbling.
|"He chose... poorly."|
You also have to be careful about how you react to compliments about your youthful looks because people don’t always mean what they say. I’ve done some research and you can gauge the sincerity of a person’s comment about your age by how often they repeat it.
“Wow, you do not look that old!”
If they say it once… They are being polite. Say thank you.
|Me, Halloween 1998, age 22, wearing a costume made for an 8-year-old|
It’s Not Just About the Face Cream
In conclusion, the secret to staying young is marrying later in life, choosing not to have children, dressing inappropriately, and talking like an idiot. Oh, and being really short helps too. Some people look down and just think you haven’t finished “growing up” yet.