By: Adriane Quinlan
The Awl, August 29, 2012
When you turn twenty-seven you start noticing the number, everywhere. Suddenly everyone else is twenty-seven, too: Every athlete and actor, all of the dead people who ever did anything. Your age is everywhere because you, at twenty-seven, are perfect. Just there. Just where you are right now: educated, but no longer preachy; fuckable, without being whiny; mature, and not yet fat. Never change.
At least, that’s what you feel like America keeps telling you.
Because yes, everything America mythicizes and celebrates and destroys is twenty-seven and has always been twenty-seven: Ingrid Bergman, in Casablanca; Heather Graham, in Boogie Nights; Marilyn Monroe in Gentleman Prefer Blondes; Jemima Kirke, in “Girls”; and every other actress expected to be a sexual prize for the first 89 minutes and believably settled down in the final frame.
The twenty-seven-year-old can accomplish anything: Yuri Gagarin orbited at age 27; Flannery O’Connor published Wise Blood and Hemingway The Sun Also Rises—their debuts. Think of Ryan Lochte v. Michael Phelps just last month when both were 27, or LeBron James, 27. This is the year at which baseball players ripen, like cantaloupes, their desirability on fantasy rosters spiking (think Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder). And it’s not because they’re so good (Delmon Young, 27) but because next season, they
settle in; because twenty-seven’s home runs and “Play-it-Again-Sams” wax into twenty-eight’s solid OBPs and loveless marriages.
At least that’s what Julia Roberts’ character thinks in My Best Friend’s Wedding, which is predicated on two friends promising that if they are not engaged to others by twenty-eight, they’ll marry. I watched it while eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (founded by two twenty-seven-year-olds) and wept: twenty-seven is the last year of romance, ego, mania. It’s the last year of Bold Moves. It’s the age of the real man of the hour, Christian Grey, who at twenty-seven jumps out of the playpen and into the arms of boring Anastasia. How mature.
And so of course that’s why at twenty-seven our musicians sign up for the “27 Club”: Winehouse, Cobain, Robert Johnson… Because if you listen to the culture, twenty-seven is where you are most beautiful and where you destroy yourself; it is for Physical Peaks and Physical Destruction, it is for Olympic Lap Lanes and Public Funerals.