Russia, March 30, 1999
Not even the KGB knew a woman's age in Russia
|Worldwide it is impolite to ask a woman's age, but up to a
certain year, somewhere in the 40's, a woman will reveal her age to
friends without shame. In Russia, a woman's age is a state secret,
unknown to anyone but her husband and her closest female friends. Maybe
it is because I am an American, or because women feel comfortable around
me, but I am asked to guess a woman's age with startling regularity.
As a gentleman, I politely refuse to do so, knowing that my answer
will incriminate me, no matter how I respond, but as a curious man, I
want to know their ages!
See, Russian women age differently than Western women. Life is hard here, and it requires maturity that is acquired quite young. The few women who's ages I know surprise me in their youth. When I first started at PW, I had a team of three working on an important project. All three women were very competent, professional, and mature in their actions and thoughts. All are also 21 or 22! I think of myself at 21, at 25, and I am amazed at how childish I am in comparison. Thursday night I was talking with an accomplished opera singer who works at PW, and while I thought she was in her early 20's, she was 18! My realtor, who negotiated the contract for my apartment, and amazes me in her assertiveness, is not 28 like I thought, but 20!
This maturity also accelerates the life cycle for women, they are usually married and expecting children by their early 20's, much younger than Western women. I still haven't decided if this is good or bad, but it does play havoc on my usual age assuming abilities. I never answer the query as to the age of a woman, because I am usually way off, in the wrong direction, and I also am regularly shocked at how young the women are that my friends date. A five year age difference is common, with a decade not that unusual.
So for now, I shall continue to demur when asked to guess a woman's age, out of courtesy and ignorance.