Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dude, Where's My Oil of Olay

The undergrads are trickling back....and boyyyy, do they look young. Oy ve.

And it's not like I look that much older! Even though I'm a decade older! I'm blessed to have good skin. I wear sunblock every day. Asian women don't age very fast, until the age of 45 and then it goes very quickly for some reason. But then it stops again at 55. My mother is almsost 70 years old, and she doesn't look a day over 55.

Of course, she stays out of the sun unlike her peasant-looking daughter. If she could make me wear a conical hat like my cousins do in Vietnam, she would. Even with sunblock, I'm quite tan--naturally olive skinned, and it's exacerbated by walking to and from school or my 6 mile outdoor runs. I hate sunbathing (it is extremely boring to just....lie there) and am one of those ungrateful desert-state people who hate the heat and sun. I'd rather be cold than hot. In theory, I would belong in a colder climate state. Except that not having grown up with it, snow scares the bejeezus out of me. The first time I encountered 30 degree weather, I thought I was going to die. I felt my joints stiffen and ache. I thought of Ethan Frome and thought maybe this is why he plowed himself into the tree.

Then when I encountered 10 degree weather and something called "windchill," I vowed that I would get a job that paid enough money for my monthly heating bill. I began to miss 30 degree balmy weather. The claim for geographic flexibility that I'll stamp loudly on my FAR form will probably guarantee that I will never get to live in a warm desert state again, so I am banking on a woodfire stove, down blankets, and a high-impact gas-guzzling existence.

But looking at the incoming freshmen, who look not just young (as I do), but child-like---oy, it makes me want to reach for anti-wrinkle cream. Even if I don't have wrinkles. I just have a brow creased with wary wit. Every year I see the Freshmen, they look younger and younger--until I realize that I'm just getting older. Even if I don't exhibit the classic signs of aging, I don't look like a child anymore. These kids--and they are kids--are as young as my nephew, which is disturbing on two levels: one, that I have a nephew who is almost college age, and two, that I can't tell the difference and yet the newbies I encounter are voting-age legal adults.

Then again, I'm rather glad that acne is no longer a daily horror, and that I no longer shop at Tilly's (not that I ever did, and I remember when it was called Miller's Outpost). And my consumer boycott of Abercrombie and Fitch for their terrible employment discrimination is actually really easy--I never shopped there anyway, so my aesthetic rejection just got bolstered by self-righteous indignation. Teenagers have appalling shopping choices: Wet Seal, Rampage, American Eagle, any "junior's department"---one day, and I hope it is soon (as it was for me), they will move onto business casual with smartly tailored chinos, extra-fine merino and silk sweaters, and blazer and dark rinse trouser-cut jeans--and never look back.

Then again, if I ever shop at Chico's or J.Jill and look like an anthropology professor (except that I didn't get my tunics, drawstring pants, big ethnic earrings and long batik scarves from my travels) and wear clogs, please shoot me.