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The Not So Teenage Dream

Photograph by Getty Images

Two things happened recently that made me question my near-frequent outbursts of nostalgic longing for my youth: 1) I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror (which made me cringe) and 2) a pimply-faced "young adult" who's more than half my age gave me attitude. (Which also made me cringe; honestly, why?)

Both happened while I shopped for my grandson, though the fact that I even have a grandson only further emphasizes my point, or something.

As I walked through Walmart trying to find my way to the toy section, I turned into an aisle and came face-to-face with a mirror. It's funny how you look different in your head than you do in real life, especially when you catch yourself by surprise.

Get rid of all good lighting in the world (which clearly runs against religion in all shopping establishments) and what are you left with? The truth, also known as a sudden realization that almost-50 really does look like almost-50.

Tilting my chin upwards (because I'm pretty sure that this is how you minimize sagging jowls), I backed away from the venomous mirror and continued on my pensive way.

Soon after, I stood in line at the cash register, still thinking about the run-in with my reflection.

"Hi!" I said to the young lady whose job is to tally up my items with a smile.

With barely an acknowledgement, she began scanning my items, carelessly, I might add.

Did I confront her for her lack of social skills or retaliate? Did I give her a heaping spoonful of her own crappy attitude or demand to speak to the manager? Nope - instead, I just stood there and watched, mesmerized by the aura of unhappiness exuding from her every awkward pore, and for a split second – or maybe half a day, it's hard to tell – I saw not a stranger any more, but myself.

Only it wasn't the me whom I had just run into in the mirror on my way to the toy section (the me with the sagging jowls), instead it was the me of years gone by, the me whom I've longed for once or twice, maybe, during those outbursts of nostalgic longing I mentioned.

A quick note on physiology: According to David Suzuki, my cells have reproduced a few million times since I was a teenager, making me a completely different person today, exactly like a clone of myself only with more wisdom and a little saggier.

Despite this little case of metamorphosis – or possibly BECAUSE OF IT – I found myself remembering, sympathizing with this young girl, the one smashing my newly acquired items into the bag.

The one with the disobedient and stringy hair, the one afflicted with the rite of passage clearly imposed on her by hormones. (Damn those hormones!)

As her existence melded into a memory of my own history, I suddenly witnessed a compelling scene, one dictated by contradictions felt to the extreme within a span of seven days.

Following are a week’s worth of reasons why I would never want to be a teenager again.

1. Monday

I KNOW who I am. My parents are idiots.

2. Tuesday

I hate my life. Why am I even here?

3. Wednesday

OH MY GOD!!! Tommy asked if he can borrow my homework!!! HE LIKES ME!!!

4. Thursday

Why is mom trying to ruin my life??? Why can't she just leave me alone?!!

5. Friday

Crap. I bet I'm the only loser in this entire universe who doesn't have plans this weekend.

6. Saturday

I'm going shopping with Jessica and Victoria! Yay! Best. Weekend. EVER!!!

7. Sunday

Nothing fits the way I want it to. My body sucks.

Conclusion

Almost-50 is pretty damn good! And thank you, pimply-faced young lady, for reminding me of that.

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