By Graham von Carlowitz, Opinion Editor
I rose last Wednesday morning to the singular sound of hammer against steel. I wished to open my window and show the construction workers my wobbling fist in protest, but I had to stop on my way to the window. “Rain,” I said to myself. “It’s going to rain today.” I forgot about the hammers and limped to my morning routine of teeth brushing, which inevitably turns into a self-led contest of scary face-making, followed by massaging my aching knees. It used to be that only one — the left — would send out the distress signals, the warning signs for moisture in the air ready to release, but these days I’m lucky if the pain subsides from both patellas after an hour.
On this particular day, I decided to wear a lazy teal polo that might as well have been grey. Not too long ago, it correctly belonged to a man who could care less about color, probably because he was color blind. Now he’s dead and I’m adopting both his clothes and apathetic style. As a geriatric in my 20s, I really have no better option. Times they are a’changin, and not just for me.
There are a few constants on this Earth I’d prefer to remain as they are: Times New Roman as the default font, for, despite all the crap it gets for being a boring lump on a log, TNR has never abandoned me; water’s paradoxically refreshing yet mild, cardboard taste; and adults just being adults, laughing for no reason and using far too many emojis in text messages. These seem like fairly reasonable requests, as I see these unfaltering rocks of life that which makes the world go round.
As it is, though, a few rocks have been jarred loose (and perhaps some screws, too). When I first began college, I was so enraptured by the comical sight of my philosophy professor — assuredly in his 60s, at least — coming and going with a backpack, snug and childlike. I pictured him, this contemplative man with glasses and nonchalant, fluttering white hair, unpacking a Scooby-Doo lunchbox and getting down to business — that is, taking his Scooby Snacks and pitting them against each other, the loser taking a deathly trip into his mouth.
I would always chuckle at this because I knew he was bound to his age and would likely never play with his food. The same scene applied to any of the older students we have here, and none of that lost its inherent humor.
Then this year came along. As if someone had pulled my daydreams from my head and transplanted them into the staff here, older people began assuming head-scratching activities that simply did not correlate to their age. I was okay with my boss, probably in her thirties, asking for chewing gum. It was innocent enough, but our meeting with fellow employees let one of my coworkers, pushing 60, I’d say, share that she copes with ADHD.
“Isn’t there a cutoff age for that kind of diagnosis?” I thought. I mean, 80 percent of my nine-member family has the same diagnosis, but I can’t see any of them discussing it past twenty-five, twenty-eight at the latest. It would just sound like nagging at that point.
Our meeting adjourned and I was released into the wild world, hoping to distance myself from these alien activities. Of course, as fate decided to have it, I came across a gray-haired man mowing the lawn and listening to music on his blue headphones, the ones with the number 6 on them. “No, no that’s not real.” I began to panic. The upside-down image of my father or, worse still, my mother jamming out to their iPod flooded my brain. The madness had to stop.
“Surely my professors will offset the insanity,” I reasoned. Sure, they might wear backpacks and chew gum, but they weren’t pretending to be children. I entered a hall, searching almost frantically for a professor to talk to. I happened upon one, thankful to discuss the boring bureaucracy brought on by the beginning of the year.
“Oh, hi!” I said to my professor. I began to outline what I needed from her and, as my gaze shifted towards the ground in thought, I saw that she standing on an angle, her right foot bolstered by an industrial-sized air cast.
“Wh…uh, how’d that happen?” I asked.
“Oh, you know, I just tripped,” she told me. I should have been comforted by how aged this made her sound, but my next comment, “Yup, I know that. I’ve got a scar on my ankle from all the times I’ve rolled it,” confirmed her out-of-place appearance as a youngster, a rowdy kid who had a little too much fun. It also confirmed my theory that old is the new young, that this world is topsy-turvy.
And then it starting raining.