Somewhere in the Middle

To say that getting old is a surprise is a flat out lie. People always talk about how old age just crept up on them unexpectedly, that they didn’t see it coming. But to them I say, no, diarrhea creeps up on you unexpectedly. Not getting older. Birthdays at least happen once a year and if you’re ever doubtful of that, you can just check your moms’ calendar.
While I don’t agree with those people, I do understand their perspective. When I attended college at 27, I didn’t think of myself as old despite the 18 year olds milling about. A more secure person would never let the age difference bother them. I’ve never been mistaken for a secure person, but I’d like to think I am when it comes to my age. I’ve never lied or denied my age. In fact, since turning 21, I have always rounded up. Since turning 28 two years ago, I have told people that I was 30. I do this not only to become more comfortable with the idea of turning 30, but also for the resulting compliments of how “good I look for my age.”
My security in my age was once and only once ever been weakened. By the time I was 27, I had been called “sir” plenty of times, although it had mostly been from police officers returning my drivers license or baristas politely handing me my drink. But on a college campus, “sir” takes a different meaning. That was a word reserved for professors, so when a teenager called me “sir” it was a bit of a jolt. I had to take a moment, and a deep breath, to thoroughly examine the boys usage of the word. Was he just being polite? I recall the boy was Asian, like, a real from-the-continent-of Asia kind of Asian. The kind that, stereotypically, had exceptional manners. Not the American-born kind of kid raised on Youtube and Jersey Shore where the most you can hope for is a “please” and maybe a “thank you.” So, perhaps his use of the word “sir” was just a formality instilled by strict parents to be used on anyone older than they. Or maybe the closer I got to 30 the more of a stink of death I emanated and his “sir” was just mournful. Whatever his intention was, I felt old.

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