Ageing: The ups and downs of looking young

Ageing by Tom NashAnyone who knows me knows that I look a lot younger than I am. Because I’m not sad enough to spend my life at the gym getting hench as fuck to compensate, I’ve had to come to terms with it.

There are upsides to looking like a young rapscallion, but there’s a lot of things that us baby-faced grown-ups have to suffer through as well.

You will find a selection of both the good and the bad below. Starting with the bad, of course.

The negative:

The general air of mistrust whenever you enter a public area
Shops with aspirations above their station are the worst. Because nothing says ‘spend your hard-earned cash in my retail outlet’ like being followed around a store like you’re Gary Glitter in the Early Learning Centre, eh?

This was also extremely entertaining when I worked in Further Education. When the college had a wanky new entrance built, there was a side door that only staff could use. Most days, as I swiped my way in, at least one prick would try to stop me by shrieking ‘STAFF ONLY!’ As if I would be wearing a shirt and tie if I was doing my fucking A-Levels. I can’t remember the amount of times I was asked why I was in the staff car park… when I was getting into my car.

It’s true what they say- common sense is surprisingly uncommon.

Now, I understand that the fines for getting caught selling booze or smokes to underage people are quite high, but seriously, shopkeepers- no self respecting teenage boy will leave the house with his hair looking as bad as mine does… Or look as world-weary, come to think of it…

Dead eyes mean old enough… Use that as a rule of thumb.

Being patronised
I started university when I was twenty-three. By then, I’d been working full time for seven years. I’d opened a pension, learned how to make tea properly, discovered how crap life can be when you have a boss that’s woefully out of their depth and found out how untrustworthy and manipulative those in senior management positions tend to be, as well as many other important life lessons…

But one day I’ll be thankful for looking like a child well into my late-twenties… Oh, fuck off.

The positive:

Canvassers/cold-callers don’t want to talk to you
One afternoon last summer, when I was house-sitting for my parents, a salesman appeared on the doorstep. I answered and he looked me up and down for a minute before saying ‘Your parents aren’t home, are they?’ I shook my head. Then he said ‘Is there anyone over the age of eighteen in the house?’ I thought about telling him that I was twenty-six, but decided to just shake my head again. He apologised for bothering me then warned me not to ‘…mess up the place too bad.’


The same goes for street canvassers. Thank fuck for hoodies, is all I say. Speaking of them…

Hoods still make the middle-classes nervous
Big crowd of dawdling old dears taking up the whole pavement? Smoking a fag and getting dirty looks for it? Just in a bad mood and want to be left alone?

Put your hood up. No fucker will even glance in your direction… You might have a knife! Only works if you’re somewhere nice, though. Otherwise you’re just one of many scummy looking little shits.

You get to see what people are really like
As the only member of my team that would access our department’s data, I had lots of people from other areas of the college calling me up requesting figures. They were always nice as pie over the phone but if I encountered them in a corridor, going through the entrance or on a staff training day and attempted a polite greeting, I would be dismissed as a student or if they noticed my staff ID, a kid on work experience and just receive a dirty look in return. Once they learnt who I was, they were always smiles and sunshine…

As if saccharine can hide the taste of bitterness. And people wonder why the ‘yoof’ act like obnoxious little shits?