An old adage says that age does not matter, but everyone keeps asking me mine. When I signed up for an overnight boat tour through the islands of Halong Bay, our tour guide, Phrong, quickly asked, “How are you?”
“Good. How are you?” I replied.
“How are you?” he asked again.
“Good. How are you?” I repeated. After eight months on the road, I’m used to random inquiries, nonsensical questions and people wanting to practice their English with me.
“No! No!” he said, clearly flustered. “How old you?”
“Oh. How old am I? Um, twenty-nine,” I say, with only a moment’s hesitation. In some Asian languages, the letter L is pronounced like R.
His eyes widen in disbelief. “You don’t look twenty-nine. I think you twenty. You look like student.”
Aw, flattery will get you everywhere with me. “How old are you?” I counter.
“Two years younger than you.”
Fabulous. Are younger men going to start stating their age in relation to my own? Maybe I’ll stay twenty-nine forever…