Living in Paradise

I’m Identifying As 35

I’m Identifying As 35

The two workmen who showed up to replace our poorly installed blinds looked like Penn and Teller. I prayed that their work wasn’t as laughable as the last two comedians that dealt with our window treatment several months ago. The ones who mismeasured the blinds and ruined the woodwork.

I was chatting with Shorty – the smaller of the two – when he announced that he was 72 going on 18. He was a slight man with a weathered face. He smelled of cigarette smoke.

This is Florida, after all, where some 18-year-olds look like 72, and life is whatever you want to make of it. I was okay with Shorty feeling like he was still a teenager.

“Yep, I feel great,” he said, as he did a little dance for me while his partner examined the creases and holes in our new bedroom blind.

“I feel pretty good too,” I said. “And I’m thinking about telling people I’m 35.” He laughed and I laughed because we both knew that, under current appearance standards, I don’t look 35 just as he doesn’t look 18. It was all in fun.

When the pair left, I starting thinking about the conversation Shorty and I had.

I can be 35. Who’s stopping me?

I can insist that people think of me as 35 and treat me as if I am 35. I can demand that whoever likes to post my age on the Internet change it to 35. When my Facebook friends send me happy birthday wishes, I can expect them to include my age as 35.

The late comedian Jack Benny was perpetually 39. Everyone laughed about it at the time. That’s when people actually had a sense of humor. Benny died in 1974 at age 80. Oh wait, at age 39. He was ahead of his time in determining what he wanted to be and insisting that everyone else think of him in that way.

Since everybody today can have a say about their gender, pronouns and how they want to be viewed by the rest of society, I can, too. I want to be 35.

You can laugh at me all you want, but I’m deadly serious. Even though I am 35 I expect to continue receiving my pensions and my Medicare. I want all the advantages and privileges that come with my chronological age, even though I am identifying as a person of 35. I am still up for early bird specials at restaurants. I want my driver’s license to reflect my age as 35. What does it matter what year I was born? I don’t want to be called for jury duty just because I’m no longer in my 70s.

I forgot to mention that I also want to be viewed as a person who is Size 4. I expect everyone who looks at me to think of me as a Size 4 and to acknowledge my petiteness … without commenting on it. Because everyone knows that it’s not appropriate to comment on people’s weight these days, including complementing them if it appears they have lost a few pounds.

As I told my man, who was rebuked for telling someone they appeared to be “fading away and looked marvelous,” it’s just not the thing to talk about.

So now that I’m a Size 4, I expect all the labels on my clothes to reflect that number and for stores to carry Size 4s that fit my body.

I’m thinking about announcing my preferences in the form of a press release or something that will get the attention of the people who put out my newsfeed. Because I know everyone will want to know that I am identifying as a Size 4, 35-year-old.

I may have other changes coming. I’ll let you know.