Monday, August 22, 2005

COLUMN: Peter Pan

In short time, I will be 35 years old. Eek. Don't send cards quite yet - it's not for another five months. Still, the fact that it's that far off and I'm already worried about it does NOT bode well. But who can blame me? 35 is officially old.

If I played professional sports, I'd be contemplating retirement about now. Soon, I will no longer be in the "coveted 18-34 market" that advertisers obsess about. No, instead I'll be lumped into the age bracket where advertisers try to reach me via reruns of "Matlock" and "Murder She Wrote." Where looking at college freshman girls becomes -- officially and decidedly -- creepy. Where MTV starts to become "just crazy kids making crazy noise."

I find myself at an interesting crossroads. On the one hand, I don't ever want to be "the old guy." I don't EVER want to be uncool, unhip, or past my prime. I don't EVER want to be called "sir" in my life. Yet, on the other hand, when my hopes and dreams are actually realized, it's just as irritating.

Let me explain. The other day, a co-worker of mine, in an off-hand conversation, made a comment that part of me wanted to take as a compliment, while the other half simply shriveled up in a ball of embarassment. She innocently referred to me as "Peter Pan."

I mean, why should that bother me? Peter Pan exemplifies the essence of eternal youth. Peter Pan should be my ideal! The world populace can become old fogies all it wants to -- ol' Peter Pan here will just laugh and dance about and then go play some X-Box, right? Right?

Then reality starts to nudge its way in. I'm all for youthful exuberance, but Peter Pan doesn't bring to mind youthful exuberance as much as it brings to mind creepy asexual frolicking. I mean, there's a REASON that Peter Pan is usually played by WOMEN. Staying young in spirit is nifty and good, unless the end result is that women of the free world now think of me on the same sexual level as Sandy Duncan. Never in my life have I heard a girl go, "Wow, that Peter Pan is SUCH a hottie."

I've been to class reunions lately, and people I went to school with are starting to look old and balding and wrinkly and such. Meanwhile, the other day a strange girl came up to me at a summer festival and was all, "Shane? Shane BROWN? Is that you?"

I didn't recognize this middle-aged woman one bit. Turns out we went to GRADE SCHOOL together. We hadn't seen each other since we were, oh, 10. I wouldn't have been able to pick her out of a line-up even if she were wearing her "Wataga Warriors" t-shirt. Yet, she pegged me from 50 yards off. Why? Because I still apparantly must look like I'm 10. THIS is a bit distressing for a 34.6 year old.

The other day, it got WORSE. I was having a "feel-bad-for-me" day, so I decided to treat myself to a movie. However, what I was not expecting at the ticket counter? "I'll need to see some ID, please."

That's right: 34-year-old me got carded trying to get into an R-rated movie. Suddenly, I was HAPPY I went by myself. I was so flabbergasted that, for one of the few moments in my life, I became indignant.

"Look," I said to the ticket girl, "you have GOT to be kidding. I could walk into this movie with a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, an absentee ballot in my pocket and a porno mag tucked under my arm!"

Note to self: This is NOT the best way to impress a theatre employee. Yes, I had to stand there, holding up the line, while she carefully held my ID to the light, checking to ensure it wasn't a fraud -- and all this to prove that I was of the maturity level necessary to watch "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo." There really IS something wrong with this world.

At the end of the day, I guess I just need to stop worrying about what others think, and just be me. My co-worker says my Peter Pan mentality is both "my charm and my downfall," and hey, I can live with being charming. Perhaps a compromise is in order. I'm not going to start wearing suits and listening to Celine Dion, but maybe it's time to ditch my subscription to "Electronic Gaming Monthly" and start getting "Esquire" instead. After all, in five months' time, the REAL fun can start: that's when this Peter Pan will be old enough to run for President.


me said...

Sweetie, having just turned 35 myself, 35 is not "officially old!" And for us ladies, getting carded at 35 (or beyond) is a cause for major celebration. :)

Besides, once you hit 35, "officially old" moves to 90, 100 even. ;)

CoachDub said...

I just stumbled upon your blog because I didn't know there could be two people with the Boo Radleys, Trash Can Sinatras, Belle and Sebastian, and Dave Eggers in their profiles.
Good work.

Heather said...

The only reason you were carded is for your address. You went to see "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" and Rob Schneider would like to come by and personally thank you.