I rushed along to my part-time job at a huge public university where I’m considered “faculty” even though I’m an hourly employee and kind of a peon in the Great Works. Nonetheless, I was running late and had to make the 15-20 minute walk across a teeming peopled highway to get there by the appointed hour.
I’m a 30-year-old guy but tend to look much younger than that. If I shaved my scruffy beard, it would be difficult to distinguish me from any upperclassman or youngish grad student milling about. Because my week had seen a series of job interviews – one involving a 30-minute presentation – I was a little bit disheveled looking and had, in fact, forgotten to put hair gel in my moppy needs-a-cut lid. I wore a rumpled looking blue sweater, jeans, and blue sneakers that I feel look mildly hipster.
I say all this to promote the fact that I more than likely looked like your average college dude rushing about campus on a Wednesday morning early in the spring semester.
I approached an intersection where two frat-looking dudes were handing out little square pieces of colored paper to people and saying things like, “You should come on down” and, to a few young ladies, “You guys are invited – bring some friends, okay?”
Now, I don’t really like to be handed pieces of paper that I don’t want and haven’t asked for. A lifetime of growing up around New York City has taught me to wear a steely eyed face in such situations, with instinctual preparations made to knock away any hand that attempts to invade my personal space (this came in very handy recently during travels in Spain where gypsies try to hand you things wherever you go – my father-in-law wasn’t so lucky and got pick-pocketed).
However, this was all quite unnecessary: the frat dudes, for whatever reason, did not seem to deem me an acceptable candidate for their exotic frat soiree. Could they have been distracted by the two young ladies who had just accepted their pieces of paper and been advised to bring their friends? Perhaps. Were young ladies the preferred recipients of said pieces of paper? Also perhaps, though I had just witnessed both genders receive their precious pieces. As I walked past – invitation free – a wave of mild anxiety descended.
Was I now old, I thought? A relic? Or worse, a dork? Do I even care if I am? I used to be invited to parties, more than I could handle. Nowadays, an evening with the wife, a good book, a manic writing session, or a few glasses of wine seem to make up the majority of nighttime activities.
Luckily I had to get to work in my rushedness, and there were new wonders to occupy my skewed thought patterns. Soon enough a young gent caught my eye: crowning his head was a perfectly groomed and spiked mohawk – and I’m talking the kind with huge hair gel-ed spikes and shaved to the scalp all besides. Now, the guy looked pretty bad ass, and he knew it, too: he walked with a swagger that said, I represent all that is good and right and kick ass about punk rock.
Then I had to laugh. I thought about the guy making his lengthy preparations in front of the bathroom mirror, all in order to showcase his efforts on the long walk to… Anthro 111? Psych 263? BioChem 401?
All of the sudden I was just me again, and that was pretty kick ass, too.