Age

The middle-aged guy manning the checkout asked me if I had any ID. I hadn’t even intended on buying anything. I’d just stopped off so a friend could pick up a few grocery items. But on the way in I was distracted by a big display of Macs beer and found myself compelled to pick up a six pack of Macs Blonde.

I thought it was a bit strange that I was being asked for ID. Yes, I was buying alcohol, and yes, if turned out that I was underage and the guy was caught selling it to me, he’d be fined. But I’m 27 – nine years older than the minimum age to buy alcohol.

So I pulled out my driver’s licence and briefly considered that maybe I actually looked like I could be 17. Maybe somehow I’ve stumbled across the secret of eternal youth. Maybe all those days spent being pale and tragic indoors to avoid the afternoon sun had paid off?

Actually, what did I look like when I was 17? Probably not all that different to how I look now, but with longer hair, a few less wrinkles and without my delightful cheekbones. But I doubt I could pass for a 17-year-old now.

If I tried to go undercover at a high school, you know, to do an in-depth report on what being a teenager is really like, I’m pretty sure I’d be mistaken for a teacher, not a student.

Of course, if real life was like a movie, I could manage it. In films it’s totally normal for actors to play characters aged significantly younger than the actor. Seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? In that, 40-year-old Nia Vardalos plays a 30 year old character. She doesn’t look 30. She looks 40.

That is an extreme example. There’s plenty of situations where an actress will play a character that’s only one or two years younger, like Sarah Jessica Parker is just a tiny bit older than her character in “Sex and the City”. That works perfectly well.

But Alyson Hannigan was a 25-year-old playing an 18-year-old when she made “American Pie”. In that movie you can easily trick yourself into believing she doesn’t look old, but if you had put her with a bunch of real 18-year-olds, she’d stick out.

Women seem to routinely lie about their age. It’s almost as if there were something shameful about growing older. This actually works to the advantage of those who are honest about their age.

If people are used to a 40-year-old woman with a 40-year-old face saying that she’s 35, this means that if you are 35 and say you’re 35, you’ll look about five years younger than what people are expecting. They’ll be like, “wow, you don’t look 35!”

I’ve decided I’m not going to lie about my age. I’m not going to be like one of my school teachers or my mother and pretend that I’m perpetually 21 (“But Mum, that would have meant that when I was born you would have been 14!”).

I’m 27. I look 27. I haven’t quite moved onto the anti-aging skin creams yet. I not sure I want to either. I was looking at one particular product and it had a warning advising not to go into direct sunlight after using it.

The checkout guy looked at my drivers licence. He entered my date of birth into the cash register and confirmed that indeed I was 18 or over.

I was still feeling pretty cool, like maybe I really could pass for 17. But then I saw the sign taped to the side of the checkout. It advised that anyone buying alcohol who looked 25 or under would be asked to show ID. So he didn’t think I could have been 17. He thought I could have been 25, a mere two years younger, and that’s perfectly reasonable to assume.

With my booze buying age confirmed, I took my beer and left. But hey, just because I don’t look 17, doesn’t mean I can’t act 17 sometimes.

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