Two things happened recently that made me question my near-frequent outbursts of nostalgic longing for my youth:
1. I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. (Which made me cringe.)
2. I was given attitude by a pimply-faced “young adult” who’s more than half my age. (Which also made me cringe. Honestly. You’d think I was passed the cringing phase.)
Both happened while I was out shopping for my grandson. The fact that I even have a grandson only further emphasizes my point. Or something.
So there I was, walking through Wal-Mart trying to find my way to the toy section when I turned into an aisle and came face to face with a mirror. It’s funny how you look different in your head than you do in real life. Especially when you catch yourself by surprise. Get rid of all good lighting in the world (which clearly runs against the religion of all shopping establishments) and what are you left with? The truth! Also known as a sudden realization that almost-50 really does look like almost-50.
Tilting my chin upwards (because I’m pretty sure that this is how you minimize the appearance of sagging jowls), I backed away from the venomous mirror and continued on my pensive way.
Soon after I was standing in line at the cash register. And still thinking about the run-in with my reflection.
“Hi!” I said to the young lady that was hired to tally up my items with a smile. (For the purpose of clarification, I just want to point out that the YOUNG LADY was the one hired to smile; not my items.)
With barely an acknowledgement, she began scanning my items. Carelessly, I might add.
Did I confront her for her lack of social skills? Did I retaliate? Did I give her a heaping spoonful of her own crappy attitude? Did I demand to speak to the manager? Nope. Instead, I just stood there and watched – mesmerized by the aura of unhappiness exuding from her every awkward pore. And for a split second – or maybe half a day, it’s hard to tell – I wasn’t staring at a stranger anymore. I was actually staring at myself. Only it wasn’t the me that I had just run into in the mirror on my way to the toy section (the me with the sagging jowls). Instead it was the me of years gone by. The me that I’ve longed for once or twice. Maybe. During those outbursts of nostalgic longing I mentioned.
A quick note on physiology: According to David Suzuki, my cells have reproduced a couple gazillion times since I was a teenager – making me a completely different person today. Exactly like a clone of myself only with more wisdom. And a little saggier. Despite this little case of metamorphosis – or possibly BECAUSE OF IT – I found myself remembering … sympathizing with this young girl. The one smashing my newly acquired items into the bag. The one with the disobedient, stringy hair. Her condition? A rite of passage clearly imposed on her by hormones. (Damn those hormones!)
As her existence melded into a memory of my own history, I suddenly witnessed a compelling scene. One where contradictions are felt to the extreme within a span of seven days. Intense indeed …
Following are a week’s worth of reasons why I would never want to be a teenager again.
I KNOW who I am. My parents are idiots.
I hate my life. Why am I even here?
OMG!!! Tommy asked if he can borrow my homework!!! HE LIKES ME!!!
Why is mom trying to ruin my life??? Why can’t she just leave me alone?!!
Crap. I bet I’m the only loser in this entire universe who doesn’t have plans this weekend.
I’m going shopping with Jessica and Victoria! Yayyy! Best. Weekend. EVER!!!
Nothing fits the way I want it to. My body sucks.
Almost-50 is pretty damn good! And thank you, pimply-faced young lady, for reminding me of that.