She'd been eye-balling me from the moment I walked through the doors. I felt the familiar creep over my skin and she weighed back and forth whether to ask me if I was old enough to be there. She started to speak, but retracted it. Whatever she was going to say, it hung there on the edge of her tongue in silent expectation.
I recognized her, and I realized she might be recognizing me, too. Maybe her problem wasn't with my questionable age, but with the reality that she knew me from somewhere, but she couldn't quite place me.
A few minutes later, I realized it was a combination of the two.
When I reached the counter, she was biting her lip and looking me in the eye. Automatically, I handed her my ID. She took it, but didn't look at it. She had to get her question out of the way first.
"Are you related to Nessa?" she asked.
"Sort of," I said. This was nothing new. Once I was accused of being my own daughter. That's my reality.
"You look just like her!" she chirped, thinking that she'd made the connection when she was completely wrong. "I went to high school with her." She smiles and laughs, as if we were old friends. (Well, we were once, but we lost touch. Life will do that.)
I could have laughed right back at her and said something retarded, like, "Really, well I'll tell her you said hi!" It's only polite after all. Good manners and friendliness aren't always expected, but they are always welcome. However, being the little snot that I am sometimes, I half-smiled and said with only a trace of Texan charm, "Yes, I remember you."
Her smile disappeared when she finally looked at my ID and realized that it was me, Little Nessa from American History Class. The atmosphere was suddenly...well..awkward.
She went into the typical "OH.MY.GOD. YOU.LOOK.SO.YOUNG." rant that I have heard time and time again.
I don't actually think I look that young, but there have been countless occasions that have proven me wrong.
Twice, while I was registering my kids for high school, I was mistaken for a student. Once for Junior High.
I've been pulled over for looking to young to drive. (Though not recently, so I guess I've aged a little.)
When I take my kids to a restaurant, the waitress asks EVERY TIME if we'd like our meals on separate checks.
It makes me feel like a freak. I make people uncomfortable.
And that day was no exception. I could tell that she was uncomfortable. It was in her strained smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Well girl you look great!" she said as she handed my ID back to me. The happiness had gone out of her voice and was replaced with that judgemental tone that meant she was going to talk about me with her co-worker as soon as the door hit my ass. "How do you manage to stay looking so young?"
I gathered my vodka, whiskey and rum in my arms, because she was suddenly too nervous to remember to bag them, and I said cheerfully, "Must be all that clean-livin'!"