Last week, while walking to my first class of the semester, something happened to me that had never happened before – I felt old. Now, allow me to explain; by no means do I intend to claim that at 22, I have turned the corner away from my youth. Rather, for the first time in my life, I felt out of touch with a new generation of students, who, though only four years my junior, have diverged from myself in their cultural interests and influences.
During my elementary school years, I used to play Sonic the Hedgehog on my Sega Genesis. The freshman class, however, would have probably sported the superior Sega Saturn as their first gaming system. For a more pertinent example, consider that the majority of the boys in the freshman class will have Justin Timberlake on their MP3 players. When I was in high school, however, any guy that was caught listening to *NSYNC or speaking positively of Justin Timberlake was destined to be made fun of, become a social pariah and, ultimately, end up dateless for homecoming. And my childhood was enriched with each and every episode of the genre-defining “Boy Meets World,” although these freshmen would have missed out: the series began in 1993 when they were 3 years old. Though these aforementioned facts make me feel slightly older, it wasn’t until my first day of classes last week that something happened that effectively made me feel “old.”
As I was walking across the lawn in front of Rush Rhees, a freshman girl who went to high school with my sister noticed me and excitedly signaled for me to come over. The girl, who I hadn’t seen in four years, had changed considerably since our last encounter. The eighth grader who once had the overbite of a horse and mild scoliosis had become a voluptuous beauty. After silently reproaching myself for ignoring her request to become my Facebook friend, I began to contemplate how I could navigate my way back into her good graces. As I approached her amidst her group of freshmen friends, she ran over to me and gave me a huge hug.
“I’ve missed you Andrew,” she exclaimed ecstatically. “Come meet my friends.” She grabbed my hand and started pulling me to her group of friends standing on the steps of Rush Rhees. “Hey guys, meet Andrew,” she announced to the group, which was a mixture of guys and girls.
I’ll summarize the next couple of minutes: the attractive 18-year-old girl continued to be touchy-feely, one of her equally attractive friends declared that I was hot and one of her guy friends told me that I looked “jacked.” Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Suddenly, the girl whispered something to one of her friends and then grabbed me by the arm and led me away from the group. “I have something to ask you,” she began cautiously.
“I think I know what it is,” I answered confidently, “and I’m flattered, but I already have a girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend?” she asked with a tone of bewilderment.
“Yeah, I’m taken, but you’re a beautiful girl and?”
“Wait,” she said abruptly, cutting me off. “I think you have the wrong idea. This is a little awkward now, but my friends and I just wanted to know if there was any way you could get us some alcohol and weed by tomorrow night.”
“Oh,” was the only reply I could muster as I began to realize that these 18-year olds didn’t think I was funny, hot or jacked. They just wanted to use me – for my age. In four years time I had gone from depending on older guys to provide me with alcohol, to being that older guy myself. Suddenly, I had a flashback to my freshman year of college. There was a creepy chemistry graduate student who was my Chemistry 131 TA that spent every Friday night “pregaming” and going to the Frat Quad with my freshman hall. The girls didn’t like him because he was always trying to take advantage of them when they were drunk, and the guys didn’t like him because he often succeeded in doing so.
Nevertheless, he had a recurring invitation to our hall every Friday night because he would always supply the alcohol. I remember one particular night after he hooked up with the girl that I had a crush on, I vowed to never be the “creepy older guy” who got alcohol for younger kids.
“So?” I heard in the background of my thoughts and, snapping to, I saw the girl waiting for my answer impatiently.
It was only then that I knew what I had to do. “Okay,” I answered, “meet me tonight at 11 p.m. in front of Wilson Commons.”
“Thanks Andrew!” she said happily as she kissed me on the cheek and ran back to her friends to spread the news.
At 11 p.m. on the dot, the girl showed up in front of Wilson Commons. “Here’s the deal,” I began. “I’m on the phone with a guy who is going to get you everything you need,” I said, holding up my phone. “His price is a little steep, but it’s either him or nothing. He’s really busy so when I give you the phone, just tell him everything you want and he’ll give you a price.”
“Okay,” the girl replied tentatively as she took the phone from my hand and brought it to her mouth. “I’m only interested in buying weed and maybe some shrooms,” she said into the phone speaker.
“Weed? And Mushrooms?” shot back the outraged voice on the other end of the phone.
The girl suddenly turned white. Cupping the phone’s speaker with her hands, she turned to me and whispered, “Who the hell am I talking to?”
“I’m surprised you don’t recognize the voice,” I retorted. “It’s your dad.”
Schwartz is a Take 5 student.