Saturday, after the Cherry Blossom Festival, TGIM dragged us to Sears for a replacement belt for our vacuum. Now, this particular Sears is situated at one end of one of our local malls, which is comprised of stores which usually beckon invitingly to me, much like the siren songs of old, enchanting me, enticing me, luring weak little me to max out my credit cards at stores such as Nordstroms or American Eagle or Banana Republic. Stores with clearance items! And jewelry! And SHOES!
But me? Saturday? I was deaf to the enchanted wiles of Retail Lorelei and the like, as I was clandestinely engaged in a little dalliance of my own with the upright washer/dryer combos on display at Sears. I couldn't help myself, you see. Because me? I have three inordinately messy children. Who, evidently having been raised in the proverbial barn, change socks three times a day and throw clothes straight from the clean pile right back into the dirty clothes hamper! With actual dirty clothes! Thus rendering clean clothes dirty again! By ASSOCIATION!
What was I saying? Oh, yes, the washers and dryers. Holy shmoly! You don't even have to buy the cheesy little dorm-style sets anymore either because now the geniuses at Kenmore have devised the ultimate Housekeeping In A Mad Teeny Condo fantasy machines. Mmmm. We're talking the sweetness that IS the STACKABLE Kenmore Elite Front Load Washer and Super Capacity Dryer, available in WAY cool, junior! colors such as Graphite, Bisque, Pacific Blue, Champagne, and Sedona! Pacific Blue! Bisque? And Sedona! In my fantasies, I am SO getting them in Sedona.
Anyway, there may have been drooling involved, I can't really say. GOSH! I could have stayed all day. Until, of course, my children decided to ditch TGIM and his vacuum belts and came in search of new prey. As they hooted and hollered and climbed like little monkeys all over me and the appliances (hello? the proverbial barn?), the sales lady finally approached me (I had heretofore been thankfully unmolested by Sharky Sears Sales Associates). She looked at me and my admittedly frightening children and said, "Wow! You don't look old enough to have three kids!"
I never know what to say to that. And let's just say I hear it a LOT. From complete strangers. You'd think I'd have a pat answer, but no. Just a blank stare. Because I really don't know what to say. I mean, is it a compliment? Should I say "thank you"? Or is it a judgement against me, like, "Girlfriend, you need to GROW UP." It's not that I'm offended. I just don't know. You know?
Then, said Sharky Sears Sales Associate went on, rubbing it in. "Do you have trouble finding people to wait on you? 'Cuz you look about thirteen with your hair like that, pulled back in a ponytail, you know?"
Thirteen? Really? THIRTEEN?!
Now, I realize I look a tad young. And I am somewhat vertically challenged, measuring in at only 5'3" (almost 4"!). Truthfully, each time I was pregnant with my kids, I would get the occasional disapproving glares and the whispers of "Tsk, tsk, another pregnant teenager" muttered just loud enough for me to hear. And when I used to teach, parents who didn't know me personally would come into my classroom and ask me when the teacher would be back. I must admit this was quite handy, because if I was busy grading or planning, or just feeling antisocial, I could simply say, "Gosh, she won't be back for, like, at least 45 minutes!" and they would GO AWAY! HA! And I honestly cannot tell you how often, as I walked the halls between classes, I would hear, "Hey, where's your hall pass young la-- oh, hahaha. Sorry Mrs. Lambson." Hahaha THIS, Principal (insert name here)!
Even here at my new job, my new, happenin', grown-up career with no teenagers in the vicinity, the I.T. guy who came to fix my computer asked me how I was enjoying my internship. Internship! As in college internship! As in, "My, my, my, you young little college thing, you."
But thirteen? So, until my kids showed up I was just a cleanliness-obsessed barely teenager lusting after primo laundering appliances? Huh?! Just, no.
Anyhoos, I am beginning to realize that in the determination of my age, context is important. Where am I? What am I wearing? Who am I with? That sort of thing. Here are the breakdowns of a few of my various ages and related activities:
Office: since I need an advanced degree to even be here, 23; when colleagues spy pictures of my children, revised to 26, tops.
Teaching: if you knew I was the teacher, a just-out-of-college 22; if you didn't know me from Adam, 17 (which created several embarrassing situations in the hallways, if you see what I mean...).
Department stores: I am beginning to realize the lack of unwanted advances by sales associates may be due to my youthful appearance. But don't teens have credit cards? Regardless, I think I'll have to go with a solid Impoverished College Student 20.
Coaching gymnastics or cheerleading: in leotard, minimal makeup, sadly, around 16 or 17.
Grocery Store: alone, after work, business attire, 21 or 22; with hysterical, whining kids, pushing 25 (damn teenage mommas!)
Bar: I am ALWAYS carded. ALWAYS! No matter what I am wearing. No matter who I am with. Always. In fact, I have had bouncers threaten to confiscate my ID! Then I'm all, "Oh, yah! Bring it on, dude! Call the cops! Call 'em! I DARE you!" See how maturely I handle that? Definitely over 21.
I need a makeover, y'all. Ooooooooh, maybe Oprah can help! Free makeup! Free clothes! That'd be wicked cool. But no Mommy Pants. Just say NO to Mommy Pants!
Darn. Now I'm depressed. And I think I've lost sight of my point.
Um... Oh yes! Washers... Dryers... Preeeeeeeetttttttyyyyyyyyy...
(ETA: I just read yesterday's comments and mamaramma, this is in NO WAY related to what you said! I wuv you big lots! It's a TOTAL coincidence! Pinky promise!)
- mrtl commented:
Oh my! You are SO TALL! (I'm an elfish 5'.)
That Sears person should have been slapped. Why wouldn't a younger person get the same respect as an older person? Bitch.
When I taught middle school, I was asked out at least twice, and I was regularly charged the student rate for lunches by the cafeteria workers.
Take the comments as compliments. Remember that People Who Look Old (or at least their age) envy Those Who Look Young. mwa hahahahaha!
- » 4/11/2005 9:18 AM
- Cat commented:
Hee. mrtl, you = hilarious. Mwahhaha, indeed. I'll try, mm-kay?
You know what's fun? Getting asked to dance by teenaged boys while chaperoning high school dances!
Know what's even more fun? Shouting "Wow! Sure!" and dragging them onto the dance floor. Breaking down like MC Hammer is, of course, optional.
- » 4/11/2005 9:53 AM
- Mamaramma commented:
cat - I meant it as a total, complete, unabashed compliment that you look so young. I'm creeping up on 29, but have been offered alcohol by waiters when I was 14. Do I get carded anymore? Sometimes - rarely, and NEVER when I'm with my baby (who I loooove to go drinking with by the by - she is the best drunk you'll ever meet). I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I'm close to Amazonian in my height, and always have been comparitively speaking. When I was younger, I thought it was great to be assumed to be so much older than I was. Now I understand the awful truth. God help me when I'm 50.
- » 4/11/2005 10:03 AM
- kalki commented:
I've seen your flickr pics, Cat. You're a hottie. Oprah makeover, my ass...
- » 4/11/2005 10:06 AM
- Cat commented:
stop... I'm blushing... I was SO not fishing!! (but, thanks!)
- » 4/11/2005 10:07 AM
- kalki commented:
No seriously. Oprah-makeover my ass. It's getting a bit out of shape these days.
- » 4/11/2005 10:50 AM
- Dante commented:
i'm 25 and constantly mistaken for 17. were it not for my goatee of manliness, i would probably be mistaken for 12. :-(
- » 4/11/2005 11:46 AM
- Cat commented:
See? I need the feminine equivalent of the goatee of manliness, but who's got $6000 and the name of a reputable plastic surgeon just kickin' around?
- » 4/11/2005 12:00 PM
- mrtl commented:
I take pleasure in leather.
I believe in JOY!
(This is how I mistook the words when I was 14... hmmmmm...)
- » 4/11/2005 3:07 PM
- Cat commented:
But wait. He says that, right? Doesn't he say that?! SHUT. UP. He totally says leisure, doesn't he?! In a total British accent!Geez, mrtl, BLOW MY MIND, why don't you?!
If you're a pub man
Or a club man
Maybe a jet black guy with a hip hi-fi
A white cool cat with a tribly hat
Maybe leather and studs is where you're at
Make the most of every day
Don't let hard times stand in your way
GIVE A WHAM GIVE A BAM BUT DON'T GIVE A DAMN
'CAUSE THE BENEFIT GANG ARE GONNA PAY!
(Now reach up high and touch your soul!...)
Man. Good times. Mrtl, I heart that you know the WHAM! Rap. I truly do. I thought my sister and I were the only ones...
- » 4/11/2005 4:36 PM
- Shaun commented:
Regarding your washer and dryer issue: Just beat the kids when they throw clean clothes into the dirty clothes.
- » 4/12/2005 12:23 AM