A recent trip to the dentist proved to be a new low in carnivalesque guessing game of my age. Granted I was using a Groupon in place of solid dental insurance, surely an early twenty-something move but not one of a teenager who would rather save up for a vintage prom dress than an x-ray of her molars. There I sat in the chair, perhaps even sulking to protest the long wait, when the young Persian-looking women entered my room and stopped hesitantly.
“Where are your parents?” she asked, testing me.
“Your parents.” She moved a bit closer now and could see my jaw was locked hard now, all grown-up like. Maybe I even furrowed my brow. I didn’t give. “You look about 14, no?”
“No, twenty-seven,” I spit back dead-panned.
“No!” She gasped and stepped back as if I had told her I was packing an ounce of cocaine under my tongue. I wanted to retort, “If I’m in 14 then you must be a regular Doogie Howser” but I didn’t. I didn’t think that’d be very mature. I tried to get on with it, slinking back in my chair and turning my chin up to the ceiling but she wouldn’t let it go.
“You don’t have children, do you?” I was a veritable freak show to her now. When I shook my head silently, she let out a puff of air. “Oh goodness. That would be too much, just too much.”
I’ve often found it strange how much we prize maturity, stability, and composure in our youth as they fumble into adulthood. Because it would really be too much if they were children forever, too much if they believed in the silly fantasies of faith, too much if they spoke their minds without appropriate censorship. We laud “childlike faith” in Christian rhetoric but in reality we just want people to speak at an appropriate volume and try not to drool when they fall asleep in church.
At the end of my visit to Ms. Howser, she assured me her mistaken estimation of my age was a compliment. Perhaps.
Perhaps I need to give up the pursuit of being “taken seriously” and relish in the continued awkwardness of what it means to rest in the perpetual puberty of this life. A professor reminded me that even the language the apostle Paul used in 1 Corinthians signified that we are “being saved” but the process was not yet finished. We haven’t “filled-out” yet. I’m still waiting for my C-cups, my Christ cups, to come in their fully glory.
As I swim between salvation and new creation, aging is an art of becoming, interested less in final solutions than perpetual renewal. And I’ll be damned if the next time I go to church with my mother I don’t lay down on her lap and ask for a back scratch.