Last night was my second class of a new term at Improv High. A very sweet and funny pixie sat next to me. I started asking her about Phoenix. I remembered she mentioned in our "getting to know you" circle that was her home base. I gathered from our discussion that she went to school out there for some time and then moved a bit and ended up in Chicago. I started finding common ground when suddenly she kind of got awkward and said, "Yeah, well I'm old. I'm pretty old. I'm, uh, 31 now." And she nodded sort of embarrassed. I nodded back without words. There were a lot of things I could say, but I was stalled out. Class began.
We improvised for three hours, and then everyone was kind of hanging around the bar. The pixie's husband was there, so I very weirdly asked to talk to her alone. I said, "So, you're not old." And she at first thought I was kind of pitying her and being like, "Awww, not THAT old! Buck up!" But then I was like, "Okay, I feel self-conscious about being old because so many people in this community are 22, and this community says that's the only age to be, and I feel like it is impossible to move any higher in this community past 29, so when someone says she is 31 and basically old and dead, that scares me. I don't want to think to myself I only have X many years left." I didn't know if she was agreeing with me or not or if I was making sense. My face was flushing but it was too late to turn back. "And guys don't apologize for being 30! They don't say they're old! They become cool veterans. So don't say you're old. Because I think it makes it worse. So don't do that." Now she was stalled. I hope I didn't attack her. I hope I empowered her. It's weird how those two things are so easy to mistake. She said, "Yeah, thanks," and smiled very awkwardly. I went to a show using my student ID and ran into Pinker, who was celebrating his birthday.