Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem |

Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem

Meredith Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

The salesman at the jewelry store in Manhattan where my husband and I browsed the day before Thanksgiving turned up his nose like he had been forced to drink a glass of expired milk as he inexplicably removed each ring from my finger only seconds after I slipped each one on.

“It’s because of our age,” I told my dad the next day. “He probably figured we couldn’t be serious about making a significant purchase.”

“You’re 35 and Rick is 40,” was my dad’s not-so-gentle reply. “It had nothing to do with your age.”

That’s when it dawned on me that I’ve been assuming incorrectly for way too long that most famous and/or successful people must be older than me.

Take Rebecca Kirshner, for example. I don’t know her and had never heard of her until last Sunday when I was reading the Weddings/Celebrations page in the Style Section of The New York Times (otherwise known as the single woman’s sports page or the married woman’s excuse to put off washing the breakfast dishes page).

According to her wedding announcement, Rebecca was previously married and works for Paramount Studios as an executive producer of the CW series “90210.” And she’s 34. (Honestly, though, her picture makes her looks 54. I can say that because I don’t know her and, apparently, I’m catty.)

I put the paper down and wondered how a woman a year younger than me could possibly have managed to marry, divorce, take the reigns of a major (albeit lousy) TV show and then marry again. Especially when I’m 35 years old and I had to have my mom sew a torn zipper on a sweatshirt during my visit last month.

Giants receiver Plaxico Burress spent the night after Thanksgiving stealing turkey leftovers from employees at a strip club, shooting himself in the thigh with the pistol he had tucked into the waistband of his sweatpants at another nightclub and then getting charged with criminal possession of a handgun. He’s four years younger than me. And, for some unintelligible reason, that surprises me. I would have thought he was older.

Tyra Banks, sometime film and TV actress, host of daytime and primetime TV shows, published author (although only in the loosest possible sense of the word) and former model, is a few months younger than me and evidently has an extensive wig collection. Who, besides our grandmas (circa 1958) and married Orthodox Jewish women, wears wigs when it’s not Halloween?

Thirty-two-year-old Angelina Jolie feeds more children in a day than a school cafeteria. And all of the kids are hers, too. If I met her I would undoubtedly be tempted to call her “Ma’am,” but who calls someone younger than her “Ma’am?”

Madonna’s current boyfriend, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and current ex-husband, film director Guy Ritchie, both have a divorce, a couple of kids and, like, seriously real professional careers under their belts. And they’re 33 and 40, respectively. Okay, so Guy is older than me. But considering what they have going on, both he and A-Rod seem much older than their ages (and mine) to me.

Same thing goes for President-elect Barack Obama. I sort of feel like our next president should be more than 12 years older than me. Or Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who’s 44. Someone who could have been vice-president should be more than nine years older than me (and at least just a little bit smarter than me). I don’t have a crystal ball, but I feel fairly confident that I will hold neither the highest nor second highest job in the land anytime in the next nine to 12 years. (You’re welcome.)

Then there are those with whom I am actually acquainted and are my age but seem older. Like everyone I know who became a doctor. Or the camp friend from seventh grade who’s the editor in chief of Town and Country Travel magazine and before that was a senior editor at Travel and Leisure magazine. Over the past several years I’ve seen her from time to time on the “Today” show or CNN talking about sophisticated, exotic vacation destinations. You know, when I’m channel surfing from more esoteric programming, like a “Friends” rerun.

But then again, I do take some comfort in knowing there at least a few people my age or younger who actually do seem younger. Like a former school mate who’s been asking around if anyone has any “hookups” in Spain (I’m not even sure what that means) and says things like “Check it” (not sure about that one, either).

Regardless, I’m guessing even he wouldn’t have had rings taken off his fingers at any jewelry store anywhere, unless the salesman was simply wrapping them for him.

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