I’m often asked how old I am in a probing accusatory way I don’t enjoy. “Hoooooold on!” they’ll exclaim, pointing at me. “How old are you?” At bars, the doormen examine my driver’s license as if cracking an illuminati cipher. “Says you’re from Texas, huh?” Then they’ll call over a third party, presumably someone more knowledgeable in the esoteric minutiae of driver’s licenses and can therefore verify its authenticity. “Hmm,” they say, trying to goad me into a confession. “Hmm….” Now imagine this experience with a girl I’ve brought along, one who’s already been waved through ahead of me, who’s now waiting for me, watching this process with a rapidly deteriorating assessment of my value as a human being. Delightful.
A couple months ago, I was carded at a movie theater by an acne scarred teenager. “You are shitting on my face and in my mouth right now,” I said. “Maybe try smoking more cigarettes?” he suggested. I said, “I know you’re just doing your job, but in this moment, I hate you.”
It’s not their fault really. I have a childlike face, feathery blonde hair like a baby, and the lanky skeletal structure of a teenager who only just received his first growth spurt. I also eat a lot of candy, an inordinate amount of candy for a “grownup,” and I’m often seen holding candy, eating candy, buying candy, and sometimes I hoard candy in secret spots throughout my home (BUT DON’T YOU GO LOOKING FOR MY CANDY, YOU LITTLE SNEAK THIEVES). The point is: I’m aware I look young — I’ve seen photographs of myself — and although I always hear, “You’ll be thankful for it when you’re older,” so far the disadvantages have far outweighed the advantages. For girls, perhaps this situation would be a boon, but for a grown ass man about town, it’s a bit demoralizing, just a bit. Not that much, though. Let me be clear: under normal circumstances, I only get the occasional, “Hey, how old are you?” asked with perfectly innocent curiosity. I’m used to this. It’s fine.
But in recent weeks, I’ve experienced a sudden inexplicable onslaught of women who start a conversation with “How old are you?” and lead into vicious attacks on my fragile glass unicorn of an ego without any provocation. Where do these women come from? What are their objectives besides increasing cumulative global sadness levels? They are like flesh and blood manifestations of my insecurities, demons sent to provoke anxiety and self-consciousness, like that woman from the playboy mansion party scene in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
After an open mic, I met a lady — excuse me — a vessel for humanity’s collective malice who looked at me cockeyed and asked, “How old are you?” I said, “23.” I thought at this point I’d put the subject to bed, but then she said casually, as if a fountain of verbal sewage wasn’t spewing forth from her gaping maw, “Because, you know, you look 14.” Then, “You look like you’ve never been inside someone.” Then, “It’s your Justin Bieber hair and your clothes and also your face.” As this assessment stretched on and on, I thought, ‘This is a lot of terrible information to receive at once. My positive worldview is declining.’ After she finished her monologue, I knew I had to say something spectacularly incisive, a razor sharp jab to put her in her place and reclaim my dignity, so after some serious rumination, I said, “You’re not making a good first impression.”
At a different open mic, the host, another sadness delivery system wrapped in the skin of a human woman, asked me my age in the same condescending tone. Knowing I needed to head this line of inquiry off at the start, I answered, “23. Yeah, I get this a lot because I look young, but I’m really 23. Really.” I expected to convey that I’d had this conversation many times before, and it didn’t need to happen again. But instead of listening, processing, and moving on with her life, she said, “You know this is an all ages bar, right? So you can tell me the truth,” and smirked in a manner I would describe as insidious. I said, “Ha ha ha, yes, you caught me. I’m 12. No, honestly, I’m really 23.” She said, “No, you’re not.” I said, “Yes, I am.” She said, “Let me see your driver’s license.” Once I gave her my driver’s license, she then reaffirmed the fact I look young and then mocked me in that way people do when they’re being “hilarious” but are actually just awful people — rudeness disguised as jokes because it’s the only way these demons can blend into civilized society. How can you continue marauding the surface world for innocent souls to devour if everyone immediately recognizes you as a godless succubus monsterlady? You have to turn that hellspeak into “insult comedy”.
These people are spiritual cannibals. They eat self-esteem like candy, like delicious candy, like Twix. They need no cause or justification to feed on positive feelings; they need only an emotionally permeable person. They will look like people, but they are not people. They are monsters. They are like bath salt zombies, but worse. They are worse than bath salt zombies because at least bath salt zombies have an excuse (bath salts), while they, on the other hand, willfully disregard your status as a fellow human being with feelings.
I’m guessing I’m being oversensitive and also exaggerating ever so slightly. Still, that’s my reaction to people who ask me how old I am in a condescending tone. I mean, I’m a man, okay guys? I’m a grown ass man. I’m a grownup who — is anyone paying attention? Hello? I COULD GROW A BEARD IF I WANTED I JUST DON’T WANT TO.