Don’t Ask My Age
“A woman can keep one secret - the secret of her age” - Voltaire
At a recent meeting of our bonsai club one of the male members had the audacity to ask me how old I am. Before I had a chance to think how best to avoid answering his question, his wife butted in.
“Mind your own business,” she said.
So did she.
When finally I got a chance to speak, I told him she had given the right answer. But why was it the right answer? Why are women so reluctant to reveal their age?
In my case, it’s a habit I acquired from my mother. I imagine she got it from hers.
But there’s more to it than that. Part of my reluctance to reveal my age comes from my own feelings of inadequacy. I still live with my parents. I don't have a man in my life. Despite having spent my whole life believing that my main purpose was to have children, I have to accept the truth. Whatever else the future holds in store for me, I will never be a mother. I could go on…
So it’s only natural that I would want people to think I'm younger than I really am. And some people certainly do.
Last year a business acquaintance wanted to match me up with her son. When she told me his age, I knew I had to decline the offer. At that stage she suddenly thought to ask my age, but of course I wasn't telling. Looking back now, I wish I'd asked her how old she was. But that’s not my style.
A few years ago I went to a high school reunion. I was surrounded by reminders of my own failures. These people who were once a part of my daily life had achieved things I could only dream of. Some had children approaching adulthood, who were already achieving great things too. All I had was shattered dreams. And everyone knew how old I was!
Putting this down on paper has been a revelation. I think I've finally figured out why I don't want to tell anyone how old I am. I don't want to be reminded of the wasted years. At times I feel like I'm still a child with great things in front of me. But when I'm forced to face my own reality, sometimes I feel really old.