I was standing in line at Zeli’s Coffee a few weeks ago, mid-afternoon, leaden with a heavy shoulder bag and the heavy task of writing cover letters, updating my resume, and applying for writing jobs that don’t exist. The women in front of me–middle-aged, groomed, wearing shiny ballet flats–finished ordering, turned and smiled at me.
“Oh!” she said, looking me up and down. “You play basketball at the high school. How neat.”
The High School she was referring to (without a question mark) was La Canada High School; the playing of basketball, I could only presume, to their varsity high school team.
“Huh?” said I, looking myself up and down. I was adorned in cover-letter writing attire–gym shorts, a sweatshirt, and a frizzy-hair ponytail–and had not yet showered. Schlumpy as I looked, I didn’t think I looked like a high school student, however athletic such student might be. (The varsity basketball team at LCHS is quite good.)
“You play for LCHS?…Are you on varsity?” she asked.
“Oh.” She turned back to the counter, quietly embarrassed for the 6’1″, twenty-three year-old woman who had, apparently, not made the cut to a high school varsity basketball team.
Last week, I pulled into the YMCA parking lot–driving a super-cool, hipster Toyota Sienna minivan–and swung into a parking spot next to a similarly recently arriving fellow. He hoped out of his green sedan licitly-split and jogged up the stairs leading to the gym facilities. I pulled myself out of the car a bit slower and heave-hoed up the steep stairs. (It was 5:00. I was tired.) Even so, this green-sedan driving, college-aged fellow and I arrived to the gym entry gate at the same time, and like a gentlemen, he paused to let me go before him. I smiled thanks. He then said, fumbling for words, “But you’re too young to be a mom!”
“Huh?” said I.
“Oooh!” he said, awkwardly panicked. “You don’t have kids. Sorry. The van threw me off.”
“No,” I said, once again, and then chuckled to myself all the way into the cardio room and up onto the elliptical machine.