Sunday Mail South Australia column for Sunday 8 May 2011

I had an odd experience last week.  It was my birthday and to celebrate I went to do one of those “Egg Timer Fertility Tests” to get the tintacks on the state of my fertility.  I know. Good times. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to celebrate a birthday. Next year I think I’ll really let loose and book in for a root canal.  As for the “Egg Timer Fertility Test” it was no biggie.  Although I was half expecting the doctors to tell me my eggs had taken on the shape and consistency of those Chicken-In-A-Biskit snacks.

Anyway. Not the point. So there I am, in the doctor’s office filling in a form, answering the standard questions. Name. Address.  Phone number.  Age.  And when I got to the age bit I wrote, “33”. Which is weird. Mostly because I’m 39.

You see readers, I’m on the super highway to forty and I’m not entirely sure how I got here.   I mean, I know how I got here. But I just don’t feel that different to when I was 33. Or 23 for that matter. Wasn’t it just the other day that my perm and I were rocking the stonewashed denim/should pads/button your shirt to the top and pin on a brooch look?  Was it really so long ago that I was drinking Fluffy Ducks as I Wang-Chunged the night away?

Apparently yes.

The Internet being the warm and fuzzy place that it is, is full of tips on how to know you’re old.  Ready to hear a few of ‘em?  You know you’re old when your pot plants stay alive.  You feed your dog “Science Diet” instead of Maccas. You hear your favourite song in the elevator.  Kidnappers aren’t interested in you. People ring you at 9pm and say, “Did I wake you?” You use the expression “Upside down, Miss Jane” and the Gen Y people have no clue what you’re talking about.  You’ve never used the words “totes” (totally) or “whateves” (whatever) in a conversation.

It disturbs me how many of those I can tick off.

And nothing makes you feel older than seeing current photos of the celebrities you admired as a teenager.  I saw a pic of Mathew Broderick recently. These days he’s less Ferris Bueller and more, I don’t know, an accountant.   Molly Ringwald is 43 and looks like she’d make a terrific three-bean salad.  And don’t talk to me about Meg Ryan. I named my old Holden Barina after her because they’d had the same amount of work done.

But it’s not just celebrities. I turned on Play School not so long ago and was rather disturbed to realise the hosts were “Frank and Roo” from Home and Away. Okay, Home and Away circa 1988 but still.  I kept expecting Bobby to run onto the set yelling, “Stop the wedding! Stop the wedding!  Frank’s not the father of Roo’s baby!”  (It was Brett, for those who are playing along at home.).

But the ultimate “I feel old” experience has to go to my friend Jill.

Jill is 38 and for the past few weeks she’s been working with a new colleague – a Gen Y woman called Anna.  Anna’s had a few problems with the workload and dealing with the big boss and Jill has been very supportive, always trying to keep an eye on Anna and make sure she’s coping okay.  So then last Friday Anna comes to work with a card and some choccies for Jill as a way to thank her for all her help. Jill is just delighted and chuffed, right up until Anna says, “I’m always talking to my boyfriend about you – you’re the ‘nice lady at work’.”

And that’s when Jill nearly choked on her raspberry cream.

“Nice lady? When did I go from being the nice girl at work to the nice lady?” Jill sighed to me over the phone. “How completely and utterly horrible.”

Don’t worry about it, I told her.  You make a cracker of a three-bean salad.

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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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