In preparing for my husband’s 19-year-old cousin to stay with us for the summer, I helped secure her an internship, find summer job possibilities, readied a room for her in my home and looked up public transportation schedules for my non-driving kin.
I thought of everything. Except for one thing: she’s going to think I’m old.
Not, like, decrepit old. But old enough to challenge my perception of myself in myriad painful and embarrassing ways. It’s inevitable. There is no way a 19-year-old can appraise someone who watched the first-run of “Seinfeld” and not think: adult.
I have long ago stopped saying that I don’t care what people think about me. People always say that they don’t care what people think about them. But if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have to make such bold declarations. They would just silently spill Colorado River water on the carcass of the baby seal they had just beaten to death and go on reading “Mein Kampf” in public.
I do care what people think. And one of the things I care a great deal about is that they not think I’m old. I listen to college radio. On purpose. I dye my hair, wear mascara even when I’m just stepping out to get the mail, and I refuse to buy Eileen Fisher clothes. (Even though I secretly really like Eileen Fisher clothes.)
I will not go gently into that good night of middle-agedom. And surrounded by other like-minded people of a certain age, I can continue to fool myself into thinking that I am nowhere near the era of reading glasses and varicose veins. I still see live music. I wear jeans to work. I know the difference between Instagram and Snapchat and use Facebook as a means of communicating with my mom.
But my 19-year-old cousin isn’t likely to appreciate my incredible hipness. I have a house. And kids. You know who else has a house and kids? Her parents. In the unforgiving light of this summer sun, I fear I am going to be weighed and measured and found ancient.
My only defense for this is more planning. I have already thought of her living and working arrangements, and now I need to think of ways to keep myself young in her eyes.
I know! We could do stuff that I loved at her age, like getting a late brunch and going to the beach. I just need to figure out a way to squeeze those things in between the kids’ birthday parties, soccer, camp and work.
Or I could take her out dancing—if I knew where people go dancing. We could loiter outside a Vape room; that seems to be a thing now. But her parents might kill me. Forget it, I’ll just take her to a happening bar and … oh, yeah.
She’s too young to drink.
Mayrav Saar is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.