Fred, a casting director in Los Angeles, recently watched a friend grow younger before his eyes. Repeatedly.
"I was standing right there while he was talking to people and watched his age fluctuate between 34 and 38 in one night," he says. "He's actually 42."
When Fred (not his real name) confronted him, his friend launched into a long, convoluted excuse about how, because he works in the music industry, he has to keep his age fluid so younger people can relate to him. Fred has a more succinct explanation for why his friend lies about his birth year.
"He thinks if he wasn't rich by the time he was 40, he [is] a failure," he says. "It's so sad to watch."
Getting caught lying about your age might be as embarrassing as a bad toupee, but when it comes to getting older, men aren't always inhibited by shame. So when they start to worry that they're too old to get laid, keep their jobs, or blend in at Bonnaroo, some guys decide to hover around 34 (or whatever number they consider the magic one) for a few yearsand hope that no one asks any probing questions.
The U.K.'s Sunday Telegraph recently revealed that James Blunt has long been identified in the press as being three years younger than he actually is (currently 34) an attempt on the part of the pop heartthrob and his PR people, the paper contended, to make his early thirties last as long as the platinum sales of his first album. Nelly was named one of Teen People's "25 Hottest Stars Under 25" twiceand it was later reported that he was 27 and 28 when the issues came out. Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada was busted last year: It was discovered that he was two years older than his listed age in the team's media guide.
You can blame this strain of Peter Pan syndrome, at least in part, on the overachieving twentysomething techies of the past decade: guys like Jim Benedetto, Jerry Yang, and Mark Zuckerberg, who at 24 was named by Forbes magazine "the world's youngest self-made billionaire." Their faces still plump with baby fat, these guys demolished the notion of climbing the career ladder. Thanks to them, certain benchmarks aren't the province of the gray-templed anymoreyou can be barely old enough to drink and already have a six-figure salary and a second home.