An aging milestone: Grown adults look like kids

I remember when my mom first uttered the words.

"The doctors are all kids!" she told me.

My father, who was a brittle diabetic, had been hospitalized again. My mom - younger at the time than I am now - couldn't believe how youthful the medical professionals looked. From then on, she would periodically offer this assessment of any adult who was under the age of 30. They all looked like kids to her.

I heard a similar comment from a co-worker's husband at an office Christmas party one year.

"Why are you hiring so many people right out of college?" he asked me.

I assured him I was not. He pointed to the individuals in question, all of whom had been in possession of a bachelor's degree for at least five years.

"They all look like kids," he said.

I told him he was getting old.

And now I find myself thinking similar thoughts wherever I see fully grown men and women in the middle of the day and wonder if they are cutting class. Instead they are working as doctors and lawyers and accountants and teachers.

At least I'm not alone when it comes to having a slightly skewed perspective on age.

At book club last week, we were discussing our latest novel, "Naked in Death" by J.D. Robb (who is really Nora Roberts). We spent a few moments discussing whether the 2058 setting of the novel, written in 1995, feels futuristic in 2021. (It doesn't.)

Our conversation quickly degenerated to whether the book would make a good movie and who we would cast as Roarke, the romantic interest of protagonist Eve Dallas.

"Pierce Brosnan!" someone suggested enthusiastically.

"Daniel Craig!" another proposed.

I should point out that Eve is most likely in her late 20s. Roarke is a bit older - maybe his mid-30s.

Pierce Brosnan at 67 is a more appropriate choice to play the grandfather in the novel. Daniel Craig has taken fewer trips around the sun, but at 53, he's easily old enough to be Eve's dad.

"Who are you casting?" I queried. "A romantic lead for Eve or for ourselves?"

After some grumbling, the group agreed to try to think of younger actors. We came up blank. A Google search of "hot actors" screen-shared on our Zoom call gave us some candidates to consider.

"Top row! Five over!" someone yelled out. "He's Irish, I think. He was in one of my British dramas."

Of course we couldn't suggest any of the actors by name because we didn't know who any of them were.

We kept looking and eventually recognized a few faces. None seemed quite right to play a wealthy, mysterious Irishman who might tend toward brooding.

And when I suggested someone younger, like 33-year-old Zac Efron, they all said he looked too young.

I know actors in high school shows might be well into their 20s and those starring as older characters might be quite a bit younger. I'll never forget the first time I saw Colin Firth play a father. What had happened? How did the actor I fell in love with as Mr. Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice" turn into the actor playing the dad of a teenager in "What a Girl Wants"? Fortunately "Love Actually" also came out that year and Firth's character was once again single and childless and all was well again.

Of course, at 60 now, he also is old enough to play a grandfather.

And actors in their 20s? Well, they all look like kids.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean