So I don't know if my mind is playing tricks on me or maybe it's just an issue of vanity, but lately I've been very aware of my age. I'm not crazy, I think 23 is still fairly young but my teenage and even college years are certainly behind me. More and more I'm finding that I'm no longer carded at the bar or out at dinner, c'mon 23! Times like these frustrate me and questions of whether or not I look old pop into my paranoid head. When my sister graduated from U of I in May of 2007, she announced her engagement to Mike at her graduation lunch. At my own graduation lunch this past weekend I clinked my water glass with a knife and asked for everyone's attention. As a joke I announced that I too was engaged, my family laughed and cheered, but then my uncle honestly asked me if I was getting married any time soon. And its times like those that I need to reiterate to myself that I'm 23 years old...and am young and should enjoy my life the way I wish, which right now is yes, unattached. Anyhow, for the most part people think I'm older than I look, which let me tell you is not at all flattering from my standpoint.
The most shocking experience happened today when a man in my building entered the elevator with his son who was furiously pressing buttons. I'd met him a couple times before either in the lobby or the elevator and all of our neighborly interactions were nothing short of cordial. I smiled at him and his son and he apologized and I insisted he not worry about it even though I was running a little late to work. A few moments later he turned to me and asked if I had any children. He must have thought I was crazy because I'm not sure what kind of look I gave him, but it took me a moment to process what he had just asked me. After re-asking him what he had asked me, he said, "Yes, do you have any children of your own?" I smiled politely, personally confused...but answered that no, I didn't have any. Enter awkward silence. So I'd imagine that most people would leave it at that but this man was something special. He then proceeded to ask, "Do you want kids?" By now I was thankful that we'd reached the lobby since I wasn't sure how to answer his question with his 4 year old son in front of us. Was I supposed to honestly answer him and tell him that no, I wasn't planning on having kids at least not in the near future?
I opted for just telling him that I was far too young to even consider children at my age, when I told him I was 23 he looked a little embarrassed and reassured me that he was old enough to be my father and apologized for all the questions and then felt the need to explain himself. Apparently he felt awkward because he was 36 (I don't know what kind of math he was doing in his head for him to think he was old enough to be my father), a single dad looking to start dating again. And apparently I looked like the woman he wanted to ask out. I told him that I was flattered (not really but it was the nice thing to say), but not looking to date at the moment so that he didn't feel like he was a creeper for politely hitting on me. Oh, just when you don't think it could get any worse this conversation was one that disproved that theory. Let's hope not to run into each other on the elevator anymore. I'm almost motivated to start taking the stairs.