Saturday, June 18, 2011

Who Lies About Their Age?

     I owe someone a big apology. I said in my previous post that B had started her new career at age 55. She's been working at it for four years, so that would imply that she is now 59 years old. That was a colossal mistake, because nothing could be further from the truth. B is unequivocally not 59 years old. She's nowhere near 59 years old.

     She actually started her new career at age 54. She is only 58 years old. She won't be 59 for ... let's see ... three more months.

     Why is it that women are so touchy about their age?

     It reminds me of my mother, who lied about her age her entire adult life. Okay, who allegedly lied about her age. Because she never admitted it.

     My dad was born in 1911. The date was on his license; he freely admitted it. There was no question about it. Not an issue.

     My mother always said that she was a year younger than my dad, making her year of birth 1912. However, the date on her license was 1911. It was a mistake, my mother insisted. Her birthday was 1912, not 1911. It wasn't a big deal to us children. Why would it be? Who cares whether your mother is 55 or 56 -- or 75 or 76? Occasionally we'd joke about it -- about the "mistake" on her license. But nobody ever really called her on it.

Hey, we're not that old
     But there was also her college diploma. She graduated from college in 1932 -- the same year as my dad, not the year after him. If she had been born in 1912, that would have made her 20 years old when she graduated from college. Was that a mistake too? While we were all impressed that our mother was pretty smart -- after all, she had gone to college, a relative rarity for a woman in those days -- we also knew she wasn't that smart, not smart enough to have skipped a grade.

     The final nail in the coffin, so to speak, occurred when my folks retired and moved to Florida. A certain document surfaced. It was my mother's official birth certificate -- and it recorded her date of birth as May 26, 1911.

     When we, the children, confronted her with this fact, she got on her high dudgeon. Oh, no, my birth certificate is wrong, she told us emphatically. She went on to explain that her original birth certificate had been lost, many years ago, and to get a new document she had to get her brother to testify to her date of birth. (Her brother was a lawyer and Notary Public; I don't know if that was a requirement.) Anyway, according to my mother, he made a mistake. He recorded that she had been born in 1911, not her real birthday in 1912. It was just that her brother was rather overbearing, and to correct the mistake would have been too much trouble. Of course by this time, her brother was quite elderly and lived in another state, and so was unavailable to either deny or corroborate my mother's story.

      We all pretended to believe her -- what was the harm? But in our minds, she was busted. We knew that she was a year older than she claimed. Yet she never admitted to her true age, even as she progressed through her 70s and 80s. And we children, in the midst of our own callow youths, could never understand why a woman would continue to shave a year off her real age, even as she lived on into her 80s.

     Still and all, I can understand why B doesn't want me to add a year to her age -- especially since she'll soon enough have to face crossing the big threshold of six-oh.

     Of course, that begs the question:  My blog is called "Sightings at 60." And, truthfully, I was 60 when I got the idea for this blog. But by the time I actually started it ... well, "Sightings at 61" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. But that's just a practical matter. It's not like I'm vain or anything -- not like my mother.

     But in any case, I feel I must set the record straight. B is not 59. She is in fact 58. You know ... kind of in her mid-50s.

     But honestly -- and I mean this -- to me she looks like she's 39.


Mac n' Janet said...

The only time I lied about my age is when I was under 21 and tried to make myself older! I refused to celebrate my 30th birthday, but since then I've come to terms with my age and this year I will celebrate the 35th anniversary of my 30th birthday.

June said...

I don't know why women lie about their ages...after they are of legal age, that is...lying about it when we're underage has its reasons and dubious benefits.
If I look good for my age it's a pleasant thing to get "You're kidding! in response. If I don't look good for my age, there's just no point in lying about it.
As a matter of fact I might start adding a few years so I can continue to get that "You're kidding!

Kay Dennison said...

The only time I've ever lied about my age is when asked if I was 21 and wanted to drink! LOL I am 64 and proud of it. That I am still here is a miracle.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I can't imagine why women would lie about their ages! Who cares? My paternal grandmother told so many lies about her age, that my aunt was unable to locate a birth certificate within a range of 8 years of her stated birthdate when she was doing a genealogy search. The only time I've been temped to lie about my age is to fudge it upwards. I look pretty average, if not a bit old, for 66. But if I bought one of those "Eighty and Elegant" t-shirts, everyone would tell me I looked great for my age! Really, one of the great gifts of age is a sort of invisibility. A longtime friend of mine recently emailed me in shock after I talked about swimming every day and hanging out at the pool most afternoons. "How can you appear in a bathing suit??" she asked. Why not? No one cares -- and I love swimming. Why deny myself the pleasure because someone might think I don't look good in a bathing suit? I don't look good - but it's not a big deal. Nor is age for me. Never has been an issue.

Dick Klade said...

Good job with that last line. That sort of thing will get you everywhere. Suggest sticking with "Sightings at Sixty." There's a certain resonance.

JBO said...

We never knew how old my stepgrandmother was until she was buried. She had arranged her headstone many years before with my grandfather. There it was...we all thought she was in her late 70's and she was actually 87! What a character.

Robert the Skeptic said...

For the next five weeks my wife will be the "older woman" until I catch up in July. Believe me, I make the most of chiding her about it.

Retired English Teacher said...

Remember when it was cool to be thirty something? Well, now it is cool to be 60 something. I think you can keep the name of your blog for at least 10 years.

I don't care if people know how old I am. I'm glad to have made it this far. My grandmother, like your mother, lied about her age until the day she died. I never could remember her age, but I never forgot the year she was born, 1892, because my grandfather told me it was 400 years after Columbus "sailed the ocean blue." said...

I always thought I was so OLD when I was in my thirties and 40s. Now I don't care. They don't card me and they give me discounts if I own that I am over 60, 62 or 65. I would like to think I am like Cleopatra and that my age doesn't show, but that is just silly. I did have two old men flirt with me in the past month so I can still pull in the "boys" it seems. Dianne