Last week, on the occasion of my eldest child's 21st birthday, I spent most of the day trying to garner compliments. Perhaps "compliment" is the wrong word. It was really reassurance that I needed. I didn't care who said it, I just wanted to hear those magical words, "My goodness, young lady! You do not look anywhere near old enough to have a 21-year-old daughter!"

Truth be known, I was pathetically desperate. I carefully stopped the gas pump at $19.79. When the cashier handed me the change, I laughed, "That's really funny! Twenty-one cents. My daughter turns twenty-one today!"

"Uh-huh," he muttered as he looked past me to the next person in line. If he had had taken two seconds to make eye contact, he would have been shocked to see such a young woman claiming to have a 21 year old child. Someone really needs to work on their customer service skills.

Next stop was the grocery store. I was picking up the usual-bread, milk, double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream-when inspiration hit. I stocked the cart with six boxes of wine, two cases of beer, and a gallon of Sangria. Nothing says youth like liquor in boxes and jugs.

There are occasions when I get carded even though the sign says, "Any customer clearly under the age of 40 must present an I.D." I always appreciate the rare clerk who can't tell for sure if I've reached 40. They will never be hired as carnival age-guessers, but they would do well in any business that requires ego boosting. I should ask them to guess my weight too.

But on this all-important date, the clerk rang up my cartful of boxed liquor without batting an eye. As she handed me the receipt, I gave her a second chance, "I guess I could have had my daughter pick this up for me. She turns 21 today!"

"Uh-huh," she chirped, snapping her gum and turning to the next customer.

Glancing at my to-do list, I cringed.

An hour later, I signed in at the front desk. Required fields were Name, Date, and Procedure. I sat in the waiting area, grumbling to myself about the poor magazine selection. Golf Digest, Architectural Digest, Travel and Leisure; who reads this stuff? I wanted something lighthearted to take my mind off of the impending discomfort. I said to the old man sitting next to me, "I should have brought my 21-year-old daughter's fashion magazines."

He responded while turning the page of his AARP mag, "Uh-huh."

Suddenly, I became aware of some commotion at the desk. Two receptionists and a nurse glanced furtively in my direction while whispering over the sign-in sheet.

Finally, one approached me.

"Are you Mrs. Truitt?"


"What procedure are you here for?"

"A mammogram."

"The problem is, we don't do mammograms here."

"But I'm certain I've been here before."

"Yes, ma'am, you were here two years ago for a scan of the soft tissues in your neck."

"Oh. So, where would I have scheduled my mammogram?"

"I'm sorry, I really couldn't say."

"This is so embarrassing! I guess I'm just really distracted because my daughter is turning 21 today."

"I understand," she reassured, "the same thing happened to my mom once. She said it's just part of getting old."