The really strange thing about birthdays too, particularly the ones where your age ends with a “0”, is that people congratulate you a lot. CONGRATULATIONS! they beam at you while handing you a card that has your age written all over it. A guy in the pub last night tried to stop me on my way out to have a chat about my birthday, but when I smiled at him and told him I was leaving he just yelled WELL DONE! at my back, as if I’d achieved something.
The other thing is being asked how it feels. HOW DOES IT FEEL? people scream while handing you chocolates. It feels embarrassing, is what it feels. It seems a bit stupid being congratulated for something you have absolutely no control over. YOU’VE GOT FIVE FINGERS ON EACH HAND! they might as well be shouting, VERY WELL DONE TO YOU INDEED!
Up until today, I was still basking in the outpouring of disbelief at my age, but the shine is very quickly coming off that because the problem is that everyone now knows precisely how old I am. Much and all as they might keep telling me I look at least five, six, even seven years younger than I am, they will never now forget my age, because the shock of it all has imprinted itself deeply into the brief biography of information they hold about me. I’d rather that they thought I was actually that age, as opposed to simply looking that age. Truth be told, I’d rather now be an incredibly haggard looking 19 year old than a very young looking what I am.
And that’s another stupid thing I keep being congratulated for. YOU LOOK SO YOUNG! they bellow at me across rooms. I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT! I don’t really give it a second thought, myself. HOW DO YOU DO IT? I really don’t “do” anything. I have no idea how it’s “done”.
When you’re younger, there are lots of theories on how you can look older. Do something different with your hair, wear a certain amount of make up a certain way, dress in a different manner, try exuding an air of confidence, talk languidly about the politics of the day or the price of the FTSE or just walk around holding a doctored ID card that says you were born in 1973 (which is what my fake ID said when I was 15). When you’re older, there isn’t really much you can do to look younger. Sure, you could try dressing like Lily Allen, but that’s just depressing for everyone around you. I’m not preaching that one should grow old gracefully, and I’m not suggesting for a moment one should grow old disgracefully.
The thing is, having heard it for about a week, and particularly strongly over this last weekend, having that shocked response of I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! blasted into my face over and over is starting to grate. What fucking difference does it make how old or young you thought I was? Does it change your opinion of me? Does it effect the dynamics of our relationship? Do you like me a little bit more or a little bit less?
It’s like being constantly told that you’ve lost weight. YOU’VE LOST WEIGHT! OH MY GOD! So fucking what? What do you care? Did you care before, when I was slightly heavier? Will you keep telling me every time a pound drops? Will you continue to verbally record my weight if it all comes back on? Fucking what?
I think I’m a bit touchy about my appearance, peeps. I’m sitting here working myself into a lather about absolutely nothing. Yes, I’m older. Yes, I don’t look it. Please, there’s nothing to congratulate me for. I didn’t do this. My parents did this. They made me, my mother birthed me on the date that she did, time has passed since. Please stop telling me things about me and dear fucking god, please wait until I’ve actually achieved something before wasting your empty congratulations on me.
I look forward to your comments.