Deepak Morris is a friend from Pune, India. I’ve known him for a few years, long enough to know that he’s typical of most single men his age, he likes to flatter and compliment women. Which is good, because he’s created friendships around the world with a group of women writers, me included.
When the topic of age comes up, he often reminds us that we’re young in age, experienced and valuable, because of our years. We have him well trained.
Today, I was taken back a bit…
I never hesitate to tell my real age. 37 has been an ongoing joke since my daughter started college. Her professor asked her how old her mother was and she told him 37. That was 8 years ago and I’m 52. I don’t know why she thought I was 37, but it stuck. Whenever I’m asked my age, I think of 37, although I most often say my real age. I’ve never felt my age, and considering some of my peers, don’t really look my age. Of course, Ms. Clairol and her six week visits might have something to do with that… I like the darker color of my hair.
The few months I tried letting my gray shine, had me more often in tears or avoiding mirrors. It wasn’t that I mind growing older, but I look amazingly like my mother with gray hair, and it just made me miss her even more.
Realizing my years, and discussing the meaning of them with friends is an honor, more often than not. Particularly, today.
A friend mentioned that her mother was having a birthday and I wished her mother, by first name, a birthday, on the friend’s facebook page. No big deal, I don’t know the woman personally, but in many ways I admire her. The daughter is a writer, capable and talented, if at times impetuous. Today was one of those impetuous moments, her hasty assumption might have irritated me, had I not recognized the significant difference in cultural heritage, based on the areas of the country where we reside. I live in Colorado where relationships are far less formal than in the northeastern part of the states.
Considering that her mother is most likely only a few months older than I (a fact her daughter might not know, since her daughter is only a few years younger than my youngest son), there was no disrespect in saying a simply Happy Birthday, Vera. We are, after all, peers in a time when respect is implied and treasured. The disrespect came from the daughter, who reprimanded me for not using the more formal Ms. Vera, in reference to her mother. The significantly more disrespectful behavior of the 33 year old toddler, implying that I didn’t know how to behave, might deserve a reprimand, and perhaps a time out in her corner for being rude.
Will she ever know? Most likely not. Her impetuous and overreaching behavior indicates a lack of ability to mind her own manners. I could say, as her mother probably would, that the differences are substantial between our generations. However, I prefer to think there are many who might be more mature in handling the situation and realize that there was no disrespect intended, nor is there any accepted from her behavior. Eventually, she’ll grow up and realize that her mother’s and my understanding of her world doesn’t make either of us rude, or daycare providers of misbehaving 30-somethings.
Meanwhile, even though I don’t know her mother personally, we’ll both smile over our coffee and understand that her rude behavior comes from lack of experience and understanding, most likely not an intention to be rude. All too soon, she’ll be mature enough to understand…