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I just assumed my perception was altered from early on, as my own mother looks at least 10 years younger than she really is. I’ll look at people and try to compare them to her while guessing an age and am almost always a decade off.
But I’ve come to find out I’m not the only one who lacks the skills needed to guess ages, and have had many people guess incorrectly when it comes to my own age.
When I was about 20, I went to watch my cousin’s youth basketball game one Saturday morning. I was down on the court taking photos when a referee came over to me and asked me, “Which kid is yours?”
I realize in today’s society, it’s not uncommon for a 20-year-old to have a child, but my cousin was 10 at the time. I smiled politely and told him I was there to watch my cousin, not my child.
Shortly after I began working at a newspaper several months out of college, I went into one of the county’s high schools to do an interview with a teacher. On the way to the classroom, another teacher came up to me and instructed me to, “Get to class,” in a not so pleasant manner. She left before I had time to explain myself, but it left me dumbfounded that a 22-year-old could be mistaken for a high schooler.
Several months later, I went to an elementary school in the same school district and was asked again, “Which child are you here for?”
Since moving to North Carolina, I have encountered the same situations. At one of the high schools here in Brunswick County, an office receptionist asked me, “Whose parent are you?”
Last time I checked, a 24-year-old isn’t quite old enough to have a high school student, but I guess anything’s possible.
But what’s most interesting to me is it’s either one end of the age spectrum or the other. While at the movie theater this weekend, my friend and I both got carded before being handed our tickets to an R-rated movie.
Now, my friend is 26 years old, and has not had to show ID for a movie admission in almost a decade. So you can imagine her surprise when the lady behind the counter asked to see her identification.
“Seriously?” she asked.
So she gave her debit card to the lady as we burst into laughter. The lady gave us a strange look but put two and two together when she saw my friend’s birthday on her driver’s license. Her eyebrows arched when she saw the 1982 birth date and was apparently surprised.
“You’ll appreciate it in a few years,” she told my friend, and completed her ticket purchase.
Then it was my turn.
“Same movie,” I said, sliding my debit card through the window.
“ID, please,” she told me.
Not trying to be rude but caught completely off guard, I asked, “Are you kidding me?”
I thought our laughter at her first request was a sign that we are both well older than the required age of 17, but apparently it wasn’t. This lady meant business and demanded my ID before allowing me into the movie.
So while I’m not sure if I need to try and look older or try some age-defying products, one thing is certain. There are some people who are far worse at age guessing than I am.