If you didn't know how old you were, how old would you feel? This is not a trick question, but one posed by WoWoWow, the website targeted at old ladies, ha ha ha. Columnist Peggy Noonan says she feels 37; gossip Liz Smith feels 28; Joan Juliet Buck says 11 — she works at Vogue so go fig — and my answer is obviously "not old enough" because for eight years now I have been unburdened by the desire to lie about my age, which is why I'm glad there are old comment-whores like Stella Lazar still on the lookout for blogger cons. "I like the age I am — in 25 days I will be 71 — NONE OF YOU WOULD ADMIT YOUR AGES — you all live in outer-space!," she wrote on the website, adding snarkily, "And, looking at your illustration with this question I think you are living in the last millenium — it looks dated and terrible as do your photographs which are so retouched and most of them look like wax figures from Tussauds." For the record, Peggy is 58, Liz Smith is 85, Joan Juliet Buck is in her sixties (I think), and I am 29 with the attention span of a four-year-old, the liver of a Korean War veteran and the musical taste of a late-blooming teenager.
It would never occur to me to lie about any of this shit, but then, I live in New York, where nothing is even quite expected of me at 29, except that I have quelled most of the anxieties associated with once having been deemed "precocious" and are therefore a decent drinking partner — that is a good assumption; you can't be precocious after 28 and that is a fucking giant relief — and maybe begun desiring babies and am therefore a perilous romantic partner (a poor assumption, I am a late bloomer though.)
At 29, everyone knows they can flatter the shit out of you by saying you look 24, and they do, but at 29 you can also talk most bouncers in New York out of needing to see the ID you keep losing because bouncers can see in your skin that you are not bullshitting them, you are what you say you are: old enough to drink prolifically and profitably with minimal incident; old enough to remember the lyrics to most modern rock hits from the years between 1989 and 1996.
Anyway, so 29 is a great year; what can I say.
A part of me would like to be 55 and menopausal and "fulfilled" by nothing more than egg sandwiches and Dinosaur Jr. songs, just to get over the disappointment already.
Another part of me thinks "wisdom" is just another word for "having re-learned the same five things the Hard Way so many times my abused and feeble mind has actually absorbed the memories" and that fucking yes, I should really start putting fortnightly facials on a charge card so I can pass for 29 in six years, because fucking hell if I trust my own intellect and work ethic to carry me.
And then there is the part of me that flatters myself into thinking that, you know, something has happened in these years that has been coherent and somehow unwasted and that it will lead to something somehow, that I will always feel exactly the age that I am even though I still occasionally date checks "2003," and that maybe I should stay in tonight and struggle with that for a moment.
But it is Friday.