I live in Los Angeles, where despite my best efforts, I occasionally hear a story like this: A friend knows an actress whose burglar alarm code — 2828 — serves as a reminder to her of the age she must never surpass. (The repetition adds a touch of hysteria, which I like.) Another friend lives next door to a model-actress who, in her late 20s, is considered to be so far out on the ledge of her prime that she was recently cast opposite a 40-something man as the mother of two teenage children. While the age distribution represented is biologically feasible (it’s possible that a woman could have her first child, with a 30-year-old husband, at age 12), child marriage is generally frowned upon even in California.
Not long ago, I watched the pilot episode of “The Mindy Project,” a comedy about a freshly minted obstetrician whose basic human value is called into question by her failure to have married someone — anyone — by her implied, if unstated, deadline. In one scene, Kaling, who is 33 in real life (and playing 31), goes on a blind date with a guy played by Ed Helms, who is 38 (and playing no one cares), when they are interrupted by an urgent phone call from the son of one of her patients. Annoyed at having to take the call, she grabs the phone from the hostess and hisses, “Do you know how difficult it is for a chubby 31-year-old woman to go on a legit date with a guy who majored in economics at Duke?”