by Jan Baughman

As promised, I am publishing my autobiography on Swans. Can I write 1500 words on me? We shall see. A few words on my past; and please appreciate my candor, for I don't often admit: I was born and raised in Orange County, California. I grew up at Disneyland. However, it is with great pride that I also confess that I managed to escape without having been indoctrinated into the John Birch Society or the NRA. Nor am I a Republican, but you already know that, having read my weekly commentaries.

But, enough of the past. Having escaped brings me right here to where I am now. The Present: the History of the Future, my Mid-Life Crisis. I am a twenty-something mind in a thirty-something body. The graying hairs and the character lines belie the youth within. They are a reality check when I tell myself "One day I will go back to school" or "In a few years I will change careers". Those bloody hairs, how they can infiltrate the dreams like a gray path to finality.

My name is Jan, and I am thirty-five.

It all started very recently. On my birthday, I played the role of the coquette and alluded to my age, stating only that it was a "Milestone Birthday". Then I learned of the talk that it was my fortieth. I panicked, and demanded of anyone who crossed my path: "Tell me how old you think I am". The hysteria spread and the answer was predictably uncertain, all hope of reassurance was undoubtedly lost. But, where to turn, how to retaliate? I am an American. I can sue my parents for child abuse, having raised me, a fair-skinned redhead, in an environment of ageless tan and blond Goddesses. Or, I can finally join the company's 401K plan and set aside a net-egg for the face peels and plastic surgery that will right the wrongs of my past.

Oh, the past. I am woefully digressing and must return to the present. I found myself in Omaha last week. Not a locale worthy of space in my memoirs, but for an incident that fueled my crisis. I was pacing the hotel lobby waiting for my car when the (young) concierge approached me and said "Former model turned Businesswoman?" "Excuse me?", I said, with that blank look my face projects when there is no expression on it. "You're a former model who is now a businesswoman", he (presumably flatteringly) replied. "No, just a Businesswoman".

But wait, I must correct this, I must send him a telegram immediately. I am not a Businesswoman. I am a Scientist. Oh, Crisis, my Crisis! I was completely wrong about my identity. And a former model? My God, how old does this make me? I was never a model, and already, I am a has-been!

No, I'm afraid it is too soon to write my autobiography. I must revisit my life, put it into its proper perspective. I am too young to write about myself, whether you know it or not. So far, I only have five hundred and seventeen words!

Published October 30, 1996
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