Gray Hair Does Not Equal Grandma

Does anyone out there like assumptions being made about them? 

Show of hands. 


Me, either.

Since I liberated myself from hair color, assumptions have been coming out the wazoo. 

I’ve been asked if I have access to a computer/email, received senior discounts without actually asking for them and, the one that really kills me, the grandchildren.  I’ve been offered a deal to add our grandchildren to annual aquarium passes and asked if the Young Adult book I was buying was for my granddaughter.

We don’t have kids.  Hence, no grandkids.

The YA book episode really pissed me off because it’s assumed that someone who looks like me wouldn’t read something in that age range unless it was for some purpose other than my own enjoyment.  Folks, a good story is a good story.  I read a little bit of everything and it certainly shouldn’t surprise a bookseller to meet a reader who has wide ranging interests.

To be fair, the 20 something book store clerk was just making conversation and I was happy to talk to her about the book I was buying for their Holiday Book Drive that I’d already read and other YA books that I recommended to her.  But thinking about it later, I felt like she’d put me in a little box with narrow options.

I hate being pigeon holed.  This particular pigeon hole is labeled “Senior Citizen” with the subheadings of “Luddite”, “Grandma”, “Old Fashioned” and the dreaded “Elderly”.  These things never happened when I had red hair.  Or purple hair.  The Husband, who’s been bald since college, never had the grandparent question raised to him until his hair went gray.

Gray Mare, not Grandma

So what is it about gray hair that suddenly elicits such galling behavior?  Why can’t service people assume that we use things like laptops and iPhones?  That we sport toe rings and tattoos?  That we stream Gilmore Girls and Schitt’s Creek?  Give us the benefit of the doubt and let us ask questions when we need a point of reference or clarification.

I will concede one possible point.  The Mom, who just turned 87, and I have had conversations about the disconnect between our inner and outer realities.  Barring true dementia, the way we think about ourselves doesn’t really change.  In the ageless mirrors of our minds, we see ourselves as young people with an abundance of worldly experience, our unlined faces and light brown hair unchanged by the decades.  And this is by no means denial, it’s just the way our timeless brains work.  Yup, on one level we certainly realize that our bodies have changed, birthday by birthday, but there’s another level that’s always surprised to see our grandma’s face in the bathroom mirror, looking back at us.

So, grudgingly, I’ll try to be patient and give the benefit of the doubt to service people who only have the outside of me to consider when, attempting to be of assistance, they inquire about the grandkids.

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