I had my head(ache) checked last week. I have a new doctor so we had to start with the basics. How old are you? she asked. Thirty-five, I said. Okay, she said. No you're not, said my youngest, annoyed he'd have to sit through chit chat before we got to the this-is-going-to-pinch part. Oh wait, I said, I'm thirty-six ... I think. Or am I turning thirty-six in February? ... wow, maybe I haven't been asked since my last birthday? ... or maybe I'm in denial? ... uhm, let me see ... I was born in 1975. I proceeded to do the math on my fingers while the doctor looked on unsmiling like a bouncer at a club I shouldn't be trying to get into. I wondered if the receptionist would tell her that I had hesitated when writing the date (2011 or 2012?) on my paperwork at the front desk. Okay, I told her, I can now confirm that I am indeed thirty-six. Hey, happy birthday to me!
If she had smiled I might have told her that if I'd wanted to lie about my age, I would have lied myself older for a cheap wow-you-really-don't-look-your-age compliment, like I do when I go to hairdressers and I need all the help I can get in the harsh light. But she didn't smile.
Where are you from? she asked through her nose, her voice pinched by the serious glasses resting there. Trick question even when you do know your age. Where am I from or where do I live? She stopped scribbling (words like 'psychotic' and 'neurotic') in my file and took a hard look at me. I looked back at her and wondered if there's a hotline to report runaway nuns.