29 going on 50

Today I was sitting at a table in the kitchen at work eating tiny sausage rolls and cheap tortilla chips (bear with me, I’m building the scene). I was talking to a colleague about milestone birthdays, and she mentioned that she was turning 30 in April.

Oh, what a coincidence, I say, because this year I, too, am turning 30. Although I was born in August, so compared to you I’m a spring chicken.

She looked at me and said something along the lines of the following:

Yes, but if you asked people who looked younger, I think we both know what they’d say.

Mean. True, but mean. I should add that she was joking (but only half joking).

I did what all parents in this situation would do, and blamed my children for ageing me beyond my years. Almost a decade without a full night’s sleep has left my eyes sunken, like little holes in the snow where someone has urinated twice (whilst clenching in between to make two eye shapes). Fatherhood has drained the colour and vitality from my youthful skin so that people always ask me if I’m feeling unwell when I’m fine. And I’m getting wrinkles, so much so that my face is beginning to resemble Gordon Ramsay’s forehead.

Don't tell him I said that.

Don’t tell him I said that.

In contrast, my colleague has just one child, and so looks roughly a third as haggard as I do. I didn’t tell her that, though. By the time I’d thought of it she had long gone, and my mouth was full of Doritos.

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