I finally must be looking like my actual age. For years, I've put up with well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) comments like "you can't possibly be a professor" or "you look like you're 20 -- you'll be happy about that someday." I've grown a tough skin about such comments, and thankfully I haven't been carded for an R movie since I was about 27, but it still can be irritating. I don't, after all, randomly tell strangers "you look really old -- what do you mean you're only 40? I thought you were 60." But in any case, I think things are starting to change.
Sign #1: I'm teaching in a media-equipped classroom this semester, and in order to use the equipment I need a special key that the Classroom Support office guards jealously. They've restructured their offices, so last week I went to one place to get the key, only to be told to phone another office. I did, and was told to email someone. I emailed on Tuesday, and again on Thursday, and made another phone call on Friday. I was really making an effort to get the key before today, before the start of classes -- both because I actually need to use the equipment tomorrow, and because I know the first week is a zoo. Well, about 4:45 on Friday I was told that the key would be available for pickup Monday afternoon at the IT service counter -- the same place all the students go to get their new logon IDs etc. Exactly what I was trying to avoid.
So I walk over there, and as I approach the line, which had extended well into the hallway, a staff member walks up to me and says "hi, are you here to pick up something?" She ferried me behind the counter and found someone who knew how to unlock the special drawer where the keys were kept. She didn't know me personally, but I must have looked enough like faculty to be able to be spotted in a room full of 20-somethings. This was one occasion I was happy to get a little dose of faculty privilege. And without having to go through some rigamarole about proving that I really was who my faculty ID card says I am.
Sign #2: none of the guys manning the student organization booths on the central quad whistled, tried to chat me up, or even looked at me. I think I've finally reached middle-aged invisibility, which in these instances is a Really Good Thing.