It was a night like any other at Europa Gym. I’d just finished training and headed off to the changing rooms for the highlight of my session – getting out of my sweaty, chalky kit. (For the record, I’m joking – I do enjoy gym really. Sometimes).
It was surprisingly quiet, normally there are gymnasts and their parents wandering about, but not tonight. That was until two girls burst into the changing rooms. They’d obviously not thought there was anyone about either since they were having what I can only assume was quite a private conversation in very loud voices.
They walked past me, continuing their conversation until one of them stopped mid-giggle to tell her friend “oi, shut up there’s a lady in here”. I thought nothing of this for a few moments, then stopped in my tracks. The changing room had been empty when I got there. The only two other people around were the gymnasts who were 7 or 8, and they obviously weren’t talking about each other. I gasped.
I was The Lady.
No, this couldn’t be right. There must’ve been an awful mistake. There’s no possible way I could be The Lady.
Skip forward a week or so to the Olympic exhibition at my old school that I’d been invited to. It was a nice evening, showcasing some of the memorabilia some of the students had collected and photographs by one of the photography assistants.
As the night drew to a close, I stood about chatting to one of my friends who was in the year below me at school, generally catching up. A mother and her daughter approached me and asked for some photos, one with me and her and one with the daughter too. I was happy to oblige, so the mother told her daughter to “go and stand with the man” while she had her photo done. The man? Which man? Then it dawned on me. My friend was The Man.
All my friends and I are slowly turning into The Man and The Lady.
When did this happen? When did I stop being That Girl or even Little Girl?! I specifically remember one day (probably almost 15 years ago now) when I was leaving my ballet class in the car. One of the girls in my class walked past and yelled out “bye little girl!”
Amusingly, I think she was probably younger than me, but the point stands. I used to be Little Girl. And now I’m The Lady. Soon enough I’ll become The Woman and then move on to be The Old Lady.
The worst part is, you can’t even correct the person who has mistaken you for The Lady or The Man. Especially if they’re kids. As tempted as I was to interrupt their conversation with “haha, no, you are mistaken – I’m a GIRL, silly!”, I’m not sure whether I could’ve got away with it without being The Crazy Lady instead. And sadly, in true old person style ‘I remember when I was their age’. There were girls in my gymnastics class who were then about 18 or 19 and I remember thinking they were adults when in actual fact I probably couldn’t have been more wrong. To those girls (who are probably now a bit closer to being The Ladies), I am deeply sorry for any mental anguish I may’ve caused you back then by thinking you were old.
Maybe this is when the ageing process starts. As soon as you become The Lady or The Man, you’re no longer a child and it’s all downhill from here. For me, I know that it really has started. I keep getting crap post. Today it was something to do with my car insurance. Yesterday it was from my bank. It was all written in TImes New Roman. I’m doomed.
Luckily I’ve not been called The Lady since that fateful day a couple of weeks ago, but I’m bracing myself for the next attack. I assume it’s like wisdom teeth. It can happen at any age after puberty, but nobody ever knows exactly when it’s coming, nobody prepares you for it, and it reminds you that you are turning into an actual real life grown up.
I’m just thankful that I’m not at the point of getting grey hairs and a mortgage yet and hopefully I won’t for a while. Until then, I am intent on acting like the biggest kid possible to reduce the chances of being called The Lady again any time soon.