"How may I help you?"
The first clue of advanced maturity should have been the conversation itself.
It was 9 a.m. and I was on the phone with a mutual fund company trying to max out my contributions to a retirement account. It’s a far cry from downloading the latest MP3s from iTunes and nowhere near as satisfying.
Since I’d waited until the last possible moment to make the year-end transaction, and I couldn't remember my secret pin number, I had to call the convenient 800 number and plead for help before the ides of April thwarted my financial future.
The woman on the other end of the line was calm, pleasant and accommodating. She even walked me through the Internet procedures with the skill and composure of a freelance Web designer apologizing for her company’s obviously clunky platform.
She ascertained my preliminary identity and then performed more rigorous tests to confirm it: Mother's maiden name; home telephone number; birth date (month and day) although, for some reason, she spared me the embarrassment of having to say the year aloud.
But she knew it anyway: "Oh, you have the same birth date as my husband ... though not the same year."
Then the entire conversation came into a different perspective. It just then dawned on me that perhaps I was no longer the youngest person in the "room." Though nothing in her words or demeanor gave me unequivocal proof, it became abundantly clear to me that I probably had at least a decade on her spouse - my unnamed rival - who almost shares my birthday.
See, I had pegged her as my age or older. I had assumed her care in walking me through the online procedure was more than formality. Yet, as the transaction progressed it became painfully obvious that there was no need for a simultaneous pressing of buttons; "Houston" didn’t need radio contact for this mission. She was merely helping an old woman cross the information super highway without getting squashed.
Its not like I don’t see time marching across my face whenever I look in a mirror. The evidence is clearly apparent. The grays that have been making ever more numerous appearances and the lines etching in deeper on my forehead are just two of its tell-tale signs.
But somehow it’s still a shock when you turn the corner from kid to adult. When you’re 50th birthday is closer than your 20th, and you know in a blink of an eye it will be upon you.
I suppose when you’ve been carded for R-rated movies a decade out of college and six months pregnant you just take it for granted that age will not outrun you. Of course, when you pull out that drivers’ license and show the pimply-faced kid behind the ticket counter the proof he requires, you’d better brace yourself for the response.
"Wow! Sorry, lady. I had no idea you were that old."