near the edge

For once, the caffeine isn't helping.

Lately, I've been feeling really old, much older than the sex kittens who display themselves on the Mall. While I revel in the fact that I can drag my tired keister to 9:30 a.m. classes, they've already glossed up with Coppertone.

At least I get to sit around in my afghan and hit glistening passersby with my cane.

It isn't just physical fatigue either. Part of it has to do with the fact that most of my friends don't remember the Electric Light Orchestra or the "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" promotion. For crying out loud, I remember when Elvis died, Live Aid and Coke in bottles.

Whereas I don't believe in reincarnation, some days I feel a lot older than most of the people who wander aimlessly around campus. I probably would have been happier in another era.

I often think living in the Depression age would be more satisfying. I know it would be less disturbing. No rap music.

But alas, I am stuck in the age of Stairmasters and wrinkle cream. It seems everyone wants to be young these days.

Every time someone tells me to lighten up and be a kid again, I barf in their Play-Doh. Look ma, real chunks.

I don't want to be a kid again. My childhood stunk. You try to live in western South Dakota on the prairie with a name like Laura Ingalls. My parents made me wear braids and fall down grassy hills while they filmed me.

You can still see where I picked the scabs.

Bloody knuckles, noogies, and that nasty dodge-the-spit game my brother played with me turned me against childhood forever. My destiny was clear. I would become an adult.

Ever since the age of 15 I've loathed youth. Junior high peer pressure and Lionel Richie top mid

ping the charts speeded the process up a bit.

Biologically speaking, I am officially an adult. I wouldn't go back to being a gangly junior higher for all the Malt-o-Meal in the world.

Older people are just more fascinating to me. My mom has waited all of her life to have gray hair so she can command more respect in the business world. I've patterned my life in much the same way.

I cherish the wrinkles that furrow my brow and can't wait until I have experiences under my belt worth talking about. One of my best friends is an 80-year-old woman named Emily. We occasionally go out for Chinese food, which she always complains about and talk about her deceased husband, life in the Depression and her last driving incident.

You see, Emily doesn't accept the fact that she's 80. The last time she went in for her driver's license renewal she conned the clerk into omitting the eye test. She batted her baby blues and said some charming thing like, "Oh, I can see that. Do you think I'm blind?"

Actually, Emily is blind, or was partially so until she had her cataract surgery. You can guess what happened next.

Emily left the DMV with a new driver's license in her hot little hand and took off in her silver Chrysler. Ten minutes later, she rear-ended another motorist because she couldn't see him.

She wasn't injured, but Emily decided that she never wanted to drive that car again. She tells the story with a gleam in her eye. That day, she walked away from her car and never looked back.

Her accident did have a happy ending. It allows me, a disgruntled 22-year-old, to drive her around and listen to her tell stories. And she gets a kick out of my forsaken youth.

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