One of the great things about walking around town with your child and running into other adults with children, is it is the only socially acceptable time besides being a carnival worker where you can randomly spout out guesses of other human being’s ages.
“Is your son, two?”
“How old is your kid, four?”
It never fails to impress me how often I get the ages wrong.
I keep wondering what the limit is for a parent to continue to describe their child’s time on the planet in terms of months. So far the oldest answer I’ve gotten is thirty-one months. One positive aspect of encountering toddlers and those that take care of them is it keeps your arithmetic skills honed to a razor edge.
If I had my druthers I would be allowed to guess the parents’ ages as well. But that is frowned upon.
I always try anyway without blatantly asking to figure out how old strangers are. It’s the competitive part in me. Since trying to make a living as a writer I have seemingly forsaken the importance of income, I instead try to find my place in society by the only other human characteristic that is easily quantifiable.
Sometimes you meet someone you feel comfortable enough to ask their age straight up, but usually you have to dance around with some subtle detective work. “Aren’t those kids cute? It reminds me of that movie Look Who’s Talking. I must have been in sixth grade when I saw that in the movie theater. What grade were you in?”
“Oh, yeah I was probably in the second grade.”
OK, that movie came out in the Fall of 1989. Second grade would mean they were seven. Carry the one. That means they are…
Learning other people’s ages is a no win contest though. If someone looks old as dirt and turns out to be younger then you, you start wondering if you’re looking just as rough. If they’re older then you thought you wonder how it got to the point that someone this old is apparently one of your peers. I’m not even going to go into the depression involved when talking with someone that looks and actually is younger then you.
The only aspect I’ve become comfortable with about this whole getting older jazz is the idea that I will not be aging gracefully.