I’m officially going gray. Maybe not in a “traditional,” “noticeable” way. But I’m going gray dammit. I have two gray hairs. One is dead center above my forehead. I named her Matilda. She’s super visible…to me. The other is at my left temple. Under duress, my wife named him Frank-N-Furter. She did not want to name the gray hair that I am inexplicably excited about. She thinks naming random things—especially hairs—is weird.
I’ve been mistaken for a teenage boy since I was in middle school. The first time was on a ski lift. I was wearing snowboard gear and a beanie pulled low over my chin-length hair. It totally threw me off that an adult man got on the ski lift with me. Most men tended to let me go solo. In retrospect, I realize those men didn’t want to look creepy, so that’s pretty great. But this dude didn’t hesitate. We chatted as the lift went up the mountain. It wasn’t until nearly a year later—when I cut off my hair and was immediately misgendered—that I realized why the dude on the ski lift had used he pronouns in reference to me.
I don’t mind being misgendered. Gender is a construct. Increasingly, however, I am finding myself irritated by the assumptions of my youth. They didn’t used to bother me. I have been undermined by my size and youthful appearance since birth. I was only five pounds. They wanted to keep me overnight, but my mother wasn’t having it. Three decades later, my ID still undergoes intense scrutiny. Which is fine, bartender. You’re doing your job. Good on you. I’m glad I look youthful. I appreciate the very pretty genetics my parents gifted me. I do not appreciate the genuine shock and awe when I share one of my accomplishments. Yes, my seventh book is coming out. Yes, I’m a professional editor. I graduated from college and I’ve been with my wife for fifteen years. All of these things are possible when you’re thirty-two. Looking nineteen is, shockingly, irrelevant.
I don’t actually look nineteen. Just for the record. But at thirty-two, I can pass for mid-twenties. Human nature demands that we categorize everything from animal to mineral to vegetable. I don’t fit in the pre-approved categories. I’m perceived as younger because people are sexist. And heteronormative. Queer adults are still rare in media, which means people who look like me aren’t visible. At first glance my size, posture, haircut, clothes, and arrogance put me in teenage boy category. So you bet your ass I’m excited about going gray. I’m going to look hot. And maybe like an adult.