The trials and tribulations of a seventeen year old baby-face
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After enduring the complicated connections and, ahem, exotic smells of the twenty-some hours in transit to Rwanda, I thought my solo trip to Chicago would prove simple. The security checkpoint woman decided I was wrong.
Only those over the age of twelve are allowed to go through the new über-fancy bad-guy-detector X-ray machine without an adult in tow. According to sassy security lady Joanne, I did not meet this requirement. Recalling the words “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” my lips remained glued shut as I condescendingly produced my license as proof that I am four years past my sixth-grade glory days.
[Note to readers: this was a bad plan—Joanne wielded her absolute power like a club, and I was forced to wait twelve extra minutes as she swabbed my hands, iPad, and cell phone to ensure that I carried no explosives on my person or things.]
Upon taking a seat on the plane, I was politely asked to remove myself from the coveted exit row so that someone “bigger” could have the extra space. This request alone didn’t phase me. As a person of just over five feet, leg room typically isn’t an issue—I sleep in roughly the same fashion as a pretzel. It was the comment made after I switched seats that excited me: “You’re probably a year away from being allowed to sit here anyway.”
After further investigation I realized that despite the demeaning tone of the tall, burly, and conceivably Russian man, this was quite possibly the highest praise I have received. The legal age for occupying an exit row is fifteen. In other words, I looked fourteen—a full two years older than the last estimate. Huzzah. I’m attributing the age jump to the sullen teenager look I adopted after being accused of preteenhood.
When I was actually fourteen, my appearance was half of that in the eyes of paranoid-grocery-store-parking-lot woman. Yes, when I was fourteen she thought I was seven. I was sitting in the car waiting for my aunt to return from purchasing an assortment of organic, all natural, gluten-free, preservative-free, taste-free food, when this woman rolled up in her minivan and stared at me through the glass.
When my aunt returned, the woman began to berate her, calling out the utter irresponsibility, criminal negligence, and sheer stupidity of leaving a seven-year-old alone in a car on a hot day. I immediately sought to give her evidence that I was in fact fourteen. Rising to my poor aunt’s defense, I blurted, “I just went to a PG-13 movie without my mom!”
Once again, this proved to be a mistake. The woman whipped out her cell phone, punched the numbers 911 and demanded to be put through to Child Protective Services. Needless to say, she thought my aunt was my mom—and my cinematic escapades were further evidence of a total lack of parental guidance.
Despite my petty anger towards all of the aforementioned people, I hope they feel no guilt, for I do indeed look very young. While this may be a burden at the time, I have something to say to all of my female classmates who appear to be twenty-five: upon reaching the age of forty, I will be a far more successful cougar than you could ever dream to be.