My favorite quote on age came from the legendary movie star, Cary Grant. He had just granted an exhaustive magazine interview. It went swimmingly. Then the journalist realized he had forgotten to ask a simple but trenchant question. Before the days of texts, the writer sent a telegraph succinctly asking:
“How old Cary Grant?”
The actor promptly replied: “Old Cary Grant fine. How you?”
Were it so easy to ask that of a woman.
Even when begged, I’ve never had the courage to ask a woman their age. Things get in the way. Like intelligence. Or survival of the species, or in this case — me-cies. If I may speak for my gender, and, there’s only two — there’s Guys and there’s Not Guys — we would never dream of volunteering to guess a woman’s age. However, women ask us to guess their age.
Not all of them.
Women aged 19 to 28 rarely ask if you’d like to guess their age. It’s a red flag if they do because they probably mean their emotional age and the disturbed subject will answer you by smiling proudly and holding up fingers.
In fact, Guys are not supposed to even acknowledge there are women out there who exist aged 19-28. By the way. Do I have to put this down in writing to remind you that if you’re in a relationship to not even glance at this demographic that doesn’t exist?
If they catch you, you won’t just end up dead, your fossil record will turn up missing. Your existence will become an awkward question, like in certain religions where they feel the Renaissance took place in 1983. When a woman coyly asks for you to guess her age, there’s no good answer. None. Guess too low and what are you trying to be? Amusing? A comic? Doing stand-up over there? This is a grandiose generalization, but nonetheless true, women who play Guess How Old I Really Am are mostly 45-60. Some woman is obviously in her 50s. You don’t want to guess — “84” — do you?
Male Lives Matter.
I don’t want to get stabbed in the heart or beaten to death with a knock-off Calvin Klein purse with a mini oxygen tank inside.
I mean, please. It’s a trap. See the cardboard sign on the outside that says, “TRAP?” Don’t think this is some intellectual conversation between peers by the water cooler because you’d be safer guessing her weight, IQ, number of drinks she’s chug-a-lugged after getting behind the wheel or number of lifetime conjugal visits she enjoyed with her three previous husbands/study partners at Berkeley.
When a woman fans herself, giggles, fans herself some more than coquettishly says, “Let’s Play How Old Do You Think I Really Am,” please believe me, you don’t want to do this. As a close relative once said: “You’re opening up a can of bees.”
My relative? She’s a girl. A real darn formidable one, too. Am I going to point out: “Didn’t you mean to say, ‘Can of worms?’” because that is the gilded, engraved invitation for them to calmly launch into: “What kind of tramp would want to open a can of worms? A worm whore?”
It’s a rhetorical question. You shouldn’t answer.
That’s followed by them regarding you for 10 minutes with a long, smoldering stare accompanied by a line of questioning that will rise from simmer to major radiator boilover.
“Do I strike you as the kind of woman interested in opening a can of worms?”
“Is that some sort of vegan joke?”
“Oh. I get it. Big can. Can. You think my butt’s too big.”
Go ahead. Try pointing out you didn’t insert the adjective — “Big” or the noun, “Butt” — anywhere in the court transcripts.
I don’t want to know a woman’s age. I KNOW some women’s ages and if I could somehow unknow it, I would because it ends up in conversations always beginning with a flat and damning: “What did you mean by that?”
Can’t come back with a meek, “…nothing” because they’ll volley back: “Then why did you bring it up?”
Can I share something?
Let’s suppose you win. You guessed right. She’s 63. Oracle of Delphi you are, she’s 63. Will you get a prize for your efforts?
Treat? Good will? Brownie Point? Moral victory? World peace? That mythical Meeting of the Genders?
We’re not arborists. We don’t count tree rings, yell “116!” and then, magically, a pleased woman yells “Bingo!” gives us a million dollars and a passionate kiss. Nor do you exclaim: “Hey! Is that a John Phillip Sousa tattoo on the northern hemisphere of your left bosom? Right next to the ‘Good King George I Slept Here’ on your right?”
Come. Come close. Closer, Einstein.
You don’t broach the subject.
If the woman presses the issue, what DO you do?
Fan yourself coquettishly, giggle, then fan yourself some more…
John Boston is Earth’s most prolific satirist, living in our backyard. He’s THIS many.