I am a sporadic reader of Playbook. And I'll admit it: I don't read it for the articles (or rather, their summaries). I unabashedly scroll to the birthdays. (Did you know Coolio turned 50 this month? Whaattt?) Anyway, it is here that I have realized the alarming degree to which chivalry has eroded.
For those unfamilar with Mike Allen's daily email, a Playbook birthday shoutout can involve anything from an elaborate description of the birthday meal to a simple listing of the person's name. Many of these are attributed with a h/t to the person who alerted Allen to the milestone. Some of them have the age attached. I have noticed that almost every time a non-celebrity woman's age is outed in Playbook, the hat tip comes from a man. Women, though, rarely think it will be a sweet gesture to broadcast to the rest of the world that their pal has turned "the big 4-0."
I went back through all of August's Playbook emails, an admittedly unscientific sample size. But I could find just two examples of woman-on-woman age-disclosure. One was someone who had just turned 27, not an age at which women tend to be bugged by the increased number of candles on the cake. The other was a "big 3-0," which can for some women be a stress-inducer, but this was a birthday reported in such detail ("Celebrated with friends at Nopa, followed by the infamous 'kill-it-skillet' brunch today") that one got the sense the birthday girl might have wanted the full, data-driven report out there. I wish I could say the same when I learned that "Claire Brinberg of CNN is 4-0 (hat tip: Adam)" or "Jen Myers of the Aspen Institute is 4-0 (hat tip: husband Sam Myers Jr.)," and maybe I'm projecting here, but I'm just not sure those sweet gestures weren't ever so slightly soured.
This is not because a woman should be ashamed of turning the big 4-0 or 5-0 or any other "ohh," I would like to make clear! But there are lots of things—societally-entrenched things!—that give some women anxiety not just about growing older, but about being perceieved as old. Not everyone wants their age to be public knowledge, especially when the first digit has just changed. It's always better to err on the side of discretion. So guys, feel free to h/t if that's the kind of thing your lady goes for, but remember: a gentleman is always vague on the details.