There are a lot of truths. A lot of things that don’t matter, but make me
restless to think about. Time-wasters. If I got them out of my system, then
what would I focus on? I could get fixated on that late to the party Times
article about Ridgewood being the new Bushwick (though 90% of people I
encounter who talk about things in Ridgewood actually mean Bushwick–neighborhood
boundaries and who discovered a neighborhood before it was cool are great uses
of limited mental energy) that I’ve been anticipating for 15 years.
No, I’m still fixated on age, growing more un-mainstream with each passing
year, fitting in peripherally, though only for what’s a rapidly closing window,
and then just being old and weird, but in good company.
28-years-old is the 120 pounds of the age world. Guys have no sense of
women’s sizes and and think 120 pound is standard and that anyone that weighs
more than that is fat even though 140, 155, and yes, even 170, are all normal,
non-overweight figures depending on height (I’m allowed to be 165 and still be
considered a normal female human by BMI standards). Guys in their early-to-mid
twenties think all women who might be older than them but are not old old are
28. You may have thought I was being hyperbolic when I said the guy we met at a
party recently thought we were 28. I wasn’t exaggerating for comic effect. (I
don't think there's any way in hell we pass for 28 and there’s no way a
20-something female would ever think we were similarly aged. This is strictly a
male thing.) Yesterday a friend my age was riding one of those hipster busses
to the Rockaways and ended up talking to 25-year-old dudes who thought she was
28. Some of this could be a result of context and style, like if you're doing
the same things, going the same places and not wearing a suit or Chico's, then
a self-absorbed type may just assume you're a peer. In this case, the friend
was going to a class when everyone else on the bus was going to a dance party.
When she mentioned how the dance party venue used to be a clam bar she was met
with non-recognition, "Oh, I wouldn't know." This is not being a
remember when old-timer. The clam bar was still in business last summer.
This brings me to another fact: a lot of men look a lot older than their
actual age. I’m not sure what is driving this (I think some of it has to do
with all the ubiquitous beards and scruff that I could really take or leave.
Also, not related to age, but a disproportionate number of guys are short,
which I never have had a strong opinion on even though there appears to be an
unspoken rule that women are nuts for guys 6’ and above. While the average
American man is 5’10,” I would say it's more like 5’8” in NYC) but it’s
especially acute on Tinder (don’t tell me you’re not familiar—it’s practically all anyone I
know is talking about). Guys that look late 30s to me, lots of balding and deep
facial lines, turn out to be early 30s. Now, my rule when guessing a man’s age is
to always subtract five years from what you think. The bus friend thought these
guys were early 30s, still dating realm, sort of, but remembered my guideline
and said 26 when they asked her how old she thought they were (yes, this is a
real question that comes up). Voila, only off by one year.
I went to The Elm Thursday (which I won’t blog about because I’m on a food blog
vacation for a month) which is not a club or bar, and not just for youngsters,
as it’s one of the more expensive restaurants in the neighborhood. Two cooks
from a currently hyped French restaurant were sitting nearby, also eating at
the bar, probably a little drunk, and struck up a conversation with the bus
friend and me. One said he lived in the LES but was getting tired of all the
obnoxious people because he was almost 30. We sympathized, as if we knew how it
must be to have this problem. I do appreciate how late 20s separate themselves
from early 20s when to me it’s all the same. They wanted to know where we were
headed next (drinks). I'm fairly certain we could’ve turned it into a double
date if we so chose. What good would come of it, though?
I feel less strongly about lying about my age than I used to, though I still
refuse to do it. (I'm also less disturbed by Botox and fillers, though not into
doing it at the moment.) Around 39, I decided that I could easily shave off
five years and no one would ever question that because 34 isn’t that young to
youngsters. Now, I could say 36, no problem. Who would question that? The thing
is 36 or 41 is equally old if you’re in your 20s. I am guilty of this. Anyone
over 70 is kind of old to me, though I’m sure there is a big difference between
72 and 77 or 83.
85% of the 20somethings that make up 90% of the clientele in my neighborhood
bars will be married, have children and have moved elsewhere, from wherever they
migrated, a nearby suburb, who knows, within the next 10 years. The 15% who
stay won't be talking to younger generations about extinct clam bars because at
41 they will not be hanging out in the same places as the new crop of
With that said, I prefer the 20something version of these people to the 30something evolution because young and self-absorbed is a lifestage where older and self-aborbed with children is brutal and immutable. It's almost been a year since I moved from Carroll Gardens and I haven't set foot in the neighborhood even once for any reason (I did go to Pok Pok, which is neither Red Hook, nor Carroll Gardens, no matter how many say it's so–neighorhood boundary spats FTW!) Saying you hate Carroll Gardens is perhaps a worse crime than wanting to use the word retarded. Mean and petty, oh well. The whole retarded neighborhood could drown in the Gowanus for all I care.
I would prefer to spend my free time surrounded by grown-ups, 35-50,
say, but I also like staying out late, socializing with cocktails, and have no
home obligations. There aren't a lot of options. I think you stay out of public and spend time
at others' houses? Maybe you go to parties like in this Samsung ad using a
Depeche Mode song? Except that no one I know owns a $3,700+ refrigerator, and
using my five-year rule, these people are probably only 34.
This is a precarious position, right on the cusp of not ok. There may be a
good year or two left for comingling in venues without generational peers
before starting to stand out and look inappropriate (my crazy hair color
certainly doesn't help). At Donna on Saturday, there was one couple who was probably
over 30, but definitely under 40, and everyone else looked barely out of
college. After two negronis (my tolerance is no lower than a decade ago, but
now if I have more than three drinks I feel like crap the entire next day when
this limit used to be six). I was ready to call it quits because who wants to
be the grandma at the bar? The friend, who wasn't drinking at all, got complimented
on her dress by a guy as we were leaving, in her mind tempering the inappropriate-ness
of our presence. I wasn't, and am still not, sold.