I Swear I’m Not A Child

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. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/SoosSahar .. (@SoosSahar)

    fucking love this guy.

  • http://baileypowell.com Bailey Powell

    Keep on ripping into haters, Brad Pike. Oh and long live Denton!

  • Rib

    hahahah this was great

  • sjane

    Story of my life. I am 26 and get mistaken for a 17 year old all the time. People suck.

  • David McClane

    I think I’m in love with the expression “Grown ass man”

  • Meh

    Nope, it’s the same for girls. Next to us, every one looks like a pedophile and/or a corrupting influence and/or an old person so no one wants to be around us and no one wants us to be around.

    I love you for mentioning Twix.

  • LIL H

    DUDE. POST A PIC!

    • Veronica

      CLICK ON HIS NAME. THERE IS A PIC!

  • Rolyn

    Eh. These same people would latch onto anything to get in a dig, you just happen to have an easy “flaw” for them to exploit. I say “flaw” because looking younger than your age is not a bad thing, but it marks you as different enough to be used as a tool for amusement without making the joker look like an asshole–or so they think. Plus, you actually respond civilly, hoo boy.

    I hate to be ~that girl, but, take me for example: I am fucking gorgeous (no really) and I am casually insulted/made fun of ALL THE TIME. But, since these comments are SO obviously in jest I shouldn’t be offended, right? Right? Whatever, here’s an Internet High-5.

  • http://twitter.com/StarJonestown Star Jonestown (@StarJonestown)

    Other than the phrase “spiritual cannibals,” this piece was written in a petulant, whiny, childish way… It’s not the “feathery hair” – wow, by the way, you call your own hair “feathery” – it’s the immaturity within that people recognize.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesuskiller Mercedes Villanueva

      I don’t see where in this whole piece you found enough evidence to call him “immature”.If anything, the people he described sounded immature because even though he would tell them how old he really was, they would press further with ill humour. But then again, you’d have to go through the same thing he goes through to understand just how fucking irritating it is.

    • yandat

      you are very dumb

  • http://twitter.com/JonTargaryen Carly Fowler (@JonTargaryen)

    Got carded last night at a movie theater.
    That and I automatically assume any guy or girl interested in me is a pedophile because they’re attracted to people that look 14.

  • nom

    This article made my day. Absolutely brilliant, Brad Pike.

    You should grow a beard in which you could then store your candy instead of holding it. Two birds. You’re welcome.

  • jm

    I hear ya. 30 years old and was recently carded at the movies… at 28 an exterminator asked me if “an adult was home.” But now that I’m 30 I guess I appreciate it. At 23 – looking like a 14 or 15 year old – it sucked.

    But hey. Eventually. It is worth it.

  • Prudence

    This is my life.

    I’m 25 from New Jersey and I moved to TX a year and a half ago. I wasn’t planning to change my license, but between bouncers thinking my license was fake (and even calling the police!!!) and the Jersey Shore jokes, I had to suck it up at DPS sooner than expected.

    And it sucks just as much for girls. Just last week I was eating with a friend when our waitress told us we only had a few minutes as the bar is 21+ after 9. She thought my 29 year old friend was my mom. That made us both feel great.

  • IMTWENTY

    People always feel the need to tell me that I look 14, it’s annoying as hell and not needed. I hope this doesn’t stop me from getting a job after college.

    • http://callingtoaccount.wordpress.com callingtoaccount

      on some level it can make life easier because it’s endearing to most people and you can get away with more mistakes / laziness.

  • Frances

    See, I have the opposite problem. I’m 19, but I get told repeatedly that I look like I’m in my mid-twenties and I am told things that people wouldn’t be so quick to tell me if they knew how old I actually was. Sure not getting carded might seem like an asset, but I was actually looking forward to the thrill of being asked for my ID for the first time and was heartily disappointed. This combined with my normally pleasant and polite manner means I get rather disapproving looks froim those who think me older when I actually act my age. I see at least one comment about someone getting a job after college with their baby-face, and I think you’re quite lucky. Employers will expect you to be confident, but in a happy-go-lucky, youthful way. When I go to interviews, employers seem to expect me to be quietly confident and professional and experienced when I’ve only had one proper job and this at a supermarket. I’m not confident about my abilities at all, and most people have a hard time remembering that I am still quite young and ignorant, despite my appearance. I suppose we all have to live with what we have though. Genetics. Not something we can help… yet.

    • Frances

      Also, as a woman, if I am with young children, people assume they’re mine. I don’t even want kids. It’s frustrating to think people automatically assume I am a mother, and yet it’s kinda fascinating at the same time. Poeple’s assumptions are fascinating.

  • guest

    you can cum on me if u want <3

  • Jill

    I am 25 years old and CONSTANTLY being told I took between 16-20 depending on how obnoxious the person is. I used to be much more self conscious about it when I was a teenager and desperately trying not to look like an eight year old. The thing that totally irks me (and clearly the writer as well) is that people just do not get that its a sensitive subject. How many times have I gone up to an overweight person and asked how much they weigh? Literally zero, because it is obviously rude and distasteful. I’d say I have been equally as self conscious about looking young my entire life as a fat person must be about their weight, yet it is totally acceptable for people to constantly inform me how young I look.

    Last week I bought a pack of cigarettes for a friend and the woman gave me a dirty look and asked to see my ID, when she say I was 25 (almost 26 actually) she frankly said “You know you look barely 17.” I responded “it is what it is” which apparently wasn’t good enough because she repeated her condescending statement about 4 more times.

    It isn’t easier to be a girl in this situation. Although, I wish it were.

    I will say one thing that has been a plus. Lately I’ve noticed a lot of my friends getting grey hairs and not that I’m happy that they’re rapidly aging, but the “you’ll be thankful for this when you’re older” is starting to come through.

    Thanks for writing this, hopefully people will stop being so rude and obnoxious, but probably not.

  • http://www.wittytitlehere.com wittycassiehere

    I happen to think I look exactly my age (22), but I still get comments like this every now and then. I love, “What grade are you in?” Bitch, I’ve been out of college for a year-and-a-half. “Oh, but you look sooo young; you don’t look your age!” That’s not a compliment yet.

  • Nat

    brad pike, I actually love you

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