As a 35 year old women surrounded by 20-something college kids everyday, I will admit that from time to time, I find said kids a bit trying. However, truth be told, I am often more comfortable around this age set because every 35 year old woman I know is drowning in children, play dates, soccer practice, ballet, and Hannah Montana-whathaveyou which makes them completely incapable of discussing other things like the Israeli-Syrian peace talks and the last episode of South Park.

That is not to say that I am fully up front with my classmates about my age either. While I come across as a slightly elder, learn-ed statesman, it is often assumed that I am in my late 20’s, or at least, that’s what I’ve been told, and I’m sticking to that-I might even cling, just a bit.

Which is why I now tell everyone I am 42.

I know, it seems slightly, okay, terrifically crack-pot, but you have to hear me out on this one:

It all started with “Lisa”. Lisa and I met one day in the student coffee shop and started kvetching about the college kiddies. Since we’re the same age, the morning coffee run became a bit of a therapy session as we both bitched about how hard it could be being students around other students of a different generation. Lisa and I ended up in a same class together where I then learned that Lisa was lying about her age. To our classmates, Lisa was not 35, but 26. Solidarity, sisterhood and all things being equal, I did not reveal Lisa’s secret. However, in a group discussion with classmates, someone said something to the effect that of course Lisa and I held the same opinion because we were “obviously the same age”, and I was so pissed at Lisa for lying about “our age” that before I could think about it, I found myself going in the opposite direction.

Grandma MosesAnd Bang! Zow! You should see the reaction this gets! See, while Lisa can pass for 26, it’s a tough 26. Put Lisa next to an actual 26 year old and there’s some noticeable differences. Me, however, I don’t pass for 42, and no one believes that I am, nor should they, but that’s not the point. The point is, at 35, I look good, at 42, however, I look phenomenal. The “No way! You’re not that old!” comments fly, but I just respond with a “Who lies about that sort of thing?” (me, apparently) and that ends the discussion.

This then leads to the inevitable: what’s your secret? questions to which I reply: don’t smoke, workout, sleep, and stay out of the sun. All of which I actually do, so let’s hope the results hold.

(This also gets the young college boys thinking they might want some advanced-age lovin’ and, dudes, what’s up with that? Why am I untouchable at 35 but “hot” at 42? Forbidden fruit? I’m sorry, Sailor Man aside, that mere thought of being called a “cougar” is just something I can’t even deal with in this lifetime.)

So why do any of this? Mostly because my real age is no one’s damn business. So what does lying about being older prove? It proves nothing. But I think it does accomplish something and that is this: getting people to re-think women in their 40’s. As a woman looking down the barrel of the big 4-0, this is something I am sensitive to. So maybe this is my way of practicing for the real thing. Men hit 40 and it’s like nothing happens. Women hit 40 and it’s all menopause-wrinkles-sagging-skin-decline-to-cronedom.

So, harmless white lie? I wonder. I admit, I probably haven’t thought this all the way through. In the meantime, I am enjoying the benefits of being an older women. It’s liberating really. General public expectations for advancing age are so shamefully low, that really, anything I do around campus garners raves. If you don’t believe me, you should see the guys in the weight room at school when I put up 200 on my bench. I know, I know, it’s silly, it’s stupid, it’s preposterous. Don’t think the irony is lost on me.

But for now, I’m a fabulous 42. Of course, pretty soon, I’ll be 43 (start of a new school term). So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Suddenly, turning 40 isn’t looking so bad, now that I’m getting the hang of it.

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