“14 going on 40,” my dad called me, because I liked to think I could fare well in conversations with the adults. I did; until I got older and more conscious of my words and the gaps in my knowledge and experience. And, of course, I was a really delusional person from age 7 to age 21 – see last week’s post. Before the Christianity there was 7 years of alien princess nonsense that I’ll have to get into sometime… I’d say I’ve only been interacting directly with reality for the past two years. So, it is with great hesitation that I call someone a peer, especially if they have some years on me.
By that, I mean, I tend to assume people have their head together better than mine, and that I am totally out here to learn from them how to be a semi-functioning “normal” human being. I’m easily impressed by the folks who can figure out the difference between Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise and other famous white guys (seriously they all look the same to me how do you even keep track of what’s going on in this movie). I defer to people’s superior knowledge of pop culture and geekery and national news.
This makes me gullible, to a fault. Of course I’m going to take the word of someone I trust, even marginally, over my own perception of reality. 3 years ago I was so out of touch I was yanking the e-brake to stop my perfectly functioning car, thinking it wasn’t working because in my dreams I skidded on roads like a wet dog on soapy linoleum. You can tell me it’s a Tuesday on a Wednesday and I will believe you.
But I’m having to come to terms with the fact that older =/= wiser. People I call friends think homeopathy is a real thing. And they’re paying attention to when the moon shadow is in the Aquarius Capricorn Libra or something. I’m having to fine-tune my bullshit detector so I can both enjoy the variety and personal insight from the circus of people in my life and still, you know, not let the pseudo get all up in my science.
But, like, I’m young and I don’t know everything and some people really like to point that out.
Category 1 of Old People: Know-it-Alls
For the purposes of this section, anyone over 30 is an “Older Person” — not because I think 30 is old, but because 30 seems to be the magical number that makes people think they can dispense words of wisdom to me. I get it, I really do. I, for example, am a whole lot smarter than a 13 year old.
I would definitely sit down 13-year-old me and have a talk.
By the way, little Sami, you are not really an alien. But that’s fine, it’s not the craziest thing you’re going to believe in your life. Unless you stay out of the Church. STAY OUT OF THE CHURCH. Also, you should kiss as many boys as possible because that is going to suddenly get way less fun in a few years.
Normally I seldom think about how young or old my party-pals are, but occasionally they won’t let me avoid the topic. Yes, I know I’m only 23; I had to prove it to get into this club… I do often act in age-appropriate ways – binge-drinking, flirting, wearing garish clothing, running around in the woods, notching up and down the Kinsey scale, mooching off my parents… I’m not delusional that I’m responsible or something.
I’m spoiled, though. I’m used to the gayborhood; guys find out my age and squeal that I’m a baby and tell me I’m sexy. They know youth is fleeting and they’re still chasing it. In my hot-head I start to think Older People should treat my presence at their “potluck” as a favor. You should be so lucky I grace you with my energy and my anti-gravity lady-lumps. So, when someone gives me the “when I was your age” speech, I get a little cranky.
“When I was 23, darling, I was an idiot. You have so much to learn…” Some bearded 38-year-old goes on about the folly of youth. And he really said darling. In his defense, he says he uses all sorts of pet names with women all the time. Don’t really see how that is a defense and not a very real sign that he has unconscious chauvinistic tendencies…
“I try not to treat people like they’re typical.” Oh. Geez. Did I really just say that? I try to sit on my rage, but he calls me ‘sweetheart’ and I go inside, aggressive. A woman is about to talk about Masaru Emoto’s touchy-feely water crystals and the power of resonance. “Bullshit!” I interrupt her. She looks hurt. “Sorry, maybe you’re talking about something else. I didn’t mean to jump on you.”
“But you did.” Touché. She continues. Definitely Masaro Emoto. Okay, sorry I’m not sorry. I let her finish, then explain why frozen water crystals with emotional signatures are about as real as Big Foot. Oh dear, looks like she built half her spirituality around that paper she read… I try to be nice, say something about the power of human imagination, but I’m pretty sure when I leave that a lot of the stress in that room leaves with me.
Ah crap. I’m that stubborn young woman who doesn’t like to be told what to do with her life and doesn’t have respect for people’s personal beliefs.
Category 2: Everyone Else
Again, I normally don’t think about this. My friends are my friends, and I forget that I’m the young one until one of them points out that I look ‘especially teenage tonight.’ Yes this happens a lot.
But there are plenty of advantages to having “older” friends:
- The wisest of them let me live my life while opening up theirs to me. I am addicted to people’s stories, and these people have more years of them.
- They have zany clothes from years of thrift-store collecting and aren’t afraid to wear them. Fuzzy paisley hats and zebra stripes and big furry coats and tutus and corsets, the really nice ones.
- Better taste in booze. They give me Horny Devil and Bullet and Laphroaig like they’re some kind of alcoholic evangelists. Obviously, I do not complain.
- They are living proof that you can still have fun past your 20s. So. Much. Fun. Can’t keep up with all this fun.