Last night, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting up with an old high school friend, “Persephone” at Union Station in Washington, DC. We hadn’t seen each other in 30+ years. Persephone and I were good buddies in a troubled era back in Arkansas. The United States Supreme Court had just mandated that busing be used to achieve racial balance in public schools, and so we trundled off every day to a decaying and poverty-riddled junior high school far from out homes, out in the county. The sentiment and intent of the mandate was laudable, but the kids who lived through this era bore the brunt of an emotionally charged and chaotic time.
This was also the first time that Persephone had seen me since I transitioned from female to male.
A friend of mine who helped me overcome my transportation hurdles to have the visit at Union Station with Persephone commented, “Say wut fountain of youth do you have in Arkansas….if you and Persephone are the same age and you look 45-50 at the most, she looks even younger….must be some water.” A great compliment, since I will be turning 58 in October!
I have always looked much younger than my age, and in some part, that’s because of my short stature. Over the years, this has disgruntled me no end. One time, I was in a Kroger grocery store making a purchase, and paid with a check when I was in my 20’s. The cashier raised her eyebrows and said, “You don’t look old enough to have a checking account.” The asked for ID, rightfully so. And when I pulled out my non-driver’s ID, she mumbled under her breath, but loud enough to be heard, “Must be a fake.” A friend witnessing this exchange was so incensed at how I was treated that she had words with the manager!
I had two age-related incidents at movie theaters. On one occasion, I was standing in line to buy a ticket for an R-rated movie. I was about 27 or 28 years old. Had my turn at the ticket booth, and the cashier demanded to see my ID to prove that I was over 17, but I’d not brought my wallet. I was gobsmacked!! Pulled my college ring off my finger to prove that I was old enough to be admitted to the movie, but that was not sufficient! Very disappointed!
On a second occasion, I was attending a movie with friends of mine, Sherry and Reginald. They were both quite tall — about 6 ft tall each — with me being very short. I was probably in my mid-30’s then? When we got to the ticket, the booth, the cashier politely inquired, “That will be two adults and one child?” !!!
Back in Little Rock, there was an excellent restaurant called Casa Bonita. The decor made the restaurant look like an authentic Mexican village, and a man playing classical Spanish guitar would go around to tables serenading patrons with ballads. Great enchiladas and sopapillas!! At the end of the meal, the wait staff would bring children a special candy treat before patrons departed. Can’t count the number of times, as an adult, I got that special piece of candy!!
Whatever good fortune gave me my youthful appearance, it wasn’t inherited from my mother. She looked much older than her actual age. One day, I had a telephone conversation with my mother when she was in her 70’s I believe. She and her husband, Shannon, had just visited a Goodwill thrift store in search of bargains. Shannon was a few years older than my mom. As they were ambling through the parking lot back to their car, a customer approached them and said to Shannon, “What a fine looking mother you have!” Oh, my mother was livid!!!
I was about 12 years older than my previous partner, Kim. She was born in 1968 and i was born in 1956. I would have been in my mid-40’s. We’d taken a day trip to King’s Dominion amusement park. There was a man clutching a bevy of over-sized poor quality stuffed animals, hawking, “Let me guess your age. If I’m not within 5 years of your age, you’ll get a free stuffed animal!” Kim went first, and the man over-estimated her age by 10 years. We were obviously together, and I went next. The poor man underestimated my age by 10 years!! Oh, yes, we went away with our cheap stuffed bears. Kim grumbled the rest of the day, while I secretly smiled.
My age is catching up with me now, and I fear my mother’s genetics are starting to show. But dang, this life has been an adventure! Remedy?
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