Friday, July 17, 2009


Tell me, what does it take for a 22-year-old woman to get some respect around here? Why, in the ever-so-polite-South, of all places, is it so hard to convince people that I'm no longer eight years old?

Maybe it's the fact that I'm 5' 3'' and I weigh 110 pounds. Maybe it's the fact that I have a baby face and innocent eyes. Whatever the reason, every time I try to convince someone I'm 22 years old, they stare at me in disbelief.

And why would I care what they think? Here's the answer: All I want to do is to be able to use the Internet at the library.

Not long ago, I asked the nice desk clerk if she would activate my library card so I could get on the Internet.

"Sweetie," she said nicely, "You have to be 16."

I am not library-bashing, but this is not the only experience I have had there. Not long ago, I was perusing the adult Christian novel section when a different library clerk approached me. "Honey," she said, "those books are for the older people. Why don't you try some of

She thrust a stack of the American Girls books into my arms.

"Thank you," I said -- in shock. What else was I supposed to say?

It's really hard to make me speechless, but last year at a craft fair, the man at the ticket booth did it. I decided to go by the fair after work. I was decked out in a three-piece suit and a pair of heels. "Excuse me," I said, "I need to buy a ticket."

"Oh honey," he said, "You don't have to. People under 12 get in for free."

I am not making this up.

It runs in my family -- the whole looking young thing. My sister was 22-years-old when the lady at Wal-Mart asked to see her ID because she didn't think she was old enough to buy cough syrup. My aunt was in college when she tried to buy a pair of heels at the shoe store and the salesman told her, "Honey, these are for the older girls. Why don't you try some flats?"

"You'll appreciate looking young when you get to be older," my aunt tells me.

I'm still waiting.

People offer all kinds of advice for how to look my age. Wear more makeup. Dress up. And my least favorite: act my age. Now where's the fun in that?

Not long ago, I decided to actually act my age and run an errand for my boss. He asked if I would be willing to take some things by the office store to be copied. Proudly, I walked into the store and gave the papers to the desk clerk, who was a teenager doing a summer job.

"Thank you, ma'am," she said. "Have a nice day."

I left the store with the word "ma'am" rolling around in my head. Ma'am? What did she think I was, an old woman?

Ten minutes later my boss got a phone call.

"Sir," the voice the other end said, "This is Tim and I'm calling for the office supply store. A little girl dropped off some papers to be copied and we had some questions for you."

I only have one question: what does it take to get a little respect around here?

I re-post this column in honor of everyone at the recent writers conference who asked me how I was enjoying the teen track.

To be honest... I didn't mind.


banderclip said...

lol! I totally relate to this...I get it all the time. Especially now that I have a baby. Sometimes I feel embarrassed to take her shopping with me, half the time people comment on how I look like I'm in high school. I certainly HOPE later on in life it will come in handy.


Anonymous said...

I love this! My daughter Sarah has dealt with this same thing all her life. She's now 28, but just a few years ago someone asked her what year in high school she was. And I am guilty of offering the same lame "comfort": You'll appreciate looking young when you're older. But the truth is, you will!

Jane Johnson Struck,

Elaina M. Avalos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BJ Hamrick said...

Christy - I know... I am terrified of that. I just know people are going to look at me and say, "What a shame. Another teenage pregnancy." *Sigh* You're right... I HOPE one day it will come in handy, too :)

Jane - Thanks so much for stopping by. Your daughter sounds like she can really relate! Love your blog (it's so REAL) and I will be coming to see you often!

Magnolia said... have a great sense of humor and are very talented with the way you write humor.

After my daughter graduated high school, someone asked her when her classes started back. When she told the woman she had finished high school, the woman said, "Oh, I thought you were a little middle schooler."

Just the thing every teenage girl wants to hear ; - )

BJ Hamrick said...

I can totally relate to your daughter. And one day, we'll be grateful... if we don't skip the whole middle-aged looking thing and go straight to aged! :)

I know all about waiting--for the right guy, for high school to end, for my boobs to come in (two out of three ain't bad).

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