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November 14th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve been doing some traveling these past couple of weeks. I went to Memphis to hear my dear friend Jonathan sing a lead role in Cosi Fan Tutte. He was sensational and, as an added bonus, I got to do a bit of sightseeing. Certainly one of the highlights of the trip was my visit to Graceland. The “mansion” there is most striking for its size. Its small. Less of a McMansion than a little house on a rather large, well-sculpted prairie. The size of the American home has grown substantially since the peak of Elvis’ career. In the early 1960s the average American family resided in an abode of just 1100 sq. feet. One bathroom was the norm and children generally shared rooms. By 2004, the average American house had swollen to 2349 sq. feet. Just as Americans have gotten bigger, so too have our homes grown.

Elvis’ house was, for lack of a better phrase, a total drug den. There are huge ashtrays everywhere and rooms covered floor to ceiling (literally) in shag carpeting. It looked, predominantly, unsanitary.

Outside I got to see Elvis’ final resting place:

Elvis grave
I’ve also been dropping in on clients who are currently enrolled in college. The unseasonably mild weather combined with the sort of manicured large-scale landscaping that screams well-endowed private university has made me more than a little nostalgic for my years at Northwestern. The sentiment expressed in Avenue Q, “I wish I could go back to college,” though, doesn’t entirely capture my mood. Sure, the campuses are lovely. The privileged student chats and plays frisbee, his or her idle hours supplied by parents with bulging checkbooks. And those students inclined to engage in a bit of cerebral exertion are able to spend a river of time doing little more than reading and debating big ideas. The lack of “real world” utility present in such pursuits is precisely what makes them so fulfilling – and why those of us who have left those days behind in search of adult responsibilities and rent money remain envious of youngsters who get to experience what we never again will. Nonetheless, I have little desire to go back from whence I came.

Why you ask? First, damn, those kids are young! Did we look like that in college? A quick perusal of my photo albums from college, made possible by the necessity of actually printing photos (omg no unlimited photo albums on facebook??), leaves me secure in the knowledge that, yep, we were all a bunch of twinks. I look young for my age now. In college I looked like I was 12. To any of those boys or girls reading this who lusted after my sweet, sweet bod back in the day I have only this to say: y’all a bunch of pedophiles.

Second, those kids don’t just look young. They ARE young! It turns out that adult responsibilities have the surprising effect of making individuals less vapid and narcissistic. With little to temper the “its all about me” sensation one feels when life is solely devoted to one’s betterment and fun, kids tend to get sort of myopic. There is lots of discussion of how far certain places are from certain other places, sore bodyparts from extensive time in the gym, and how most of life’s daily concerns are just “stupid shit.” So that’s clear.

One truly positive take-away from the trip was being mistaken for an undergrad by 3 drunk girls. Moreover, it was in a room lit by florescent lighting! There is nothing that warms the heart of the image-obsessed quite so well as being mistaken for someone who is hanging in proximity to the age at which one is, finally, allowed to legally drink. I attribute my dewy glow to proper dietary habits and healthy living. (stop that…stop laughing…no really, I mean it!)

Ok, time for a large shot of wheatgrass and a solid 8.5 hrs of sleep.


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  1. Mommy Wheelan
    November 15th, 2009 at 15:34 | #1

    Ah my son whose callow youth once delighted and sometimes vexed me. Other than the omission of how you come by your eternally youthful appearance (no not that picture locked away in the closet), you have summed up the contemporary college experience quite nicely. I know that because I still have a college student child. Just as you were at Northwestern, so Gracie is now at Univ of Southern California. True, more high tech, and all that which it entails/ permits, but just as indignant, I mean ‘youthful.’ For good or ill, we experience those halcyon days and then are fortunate enough to be glad they are behind us. For me, that entails the knowledge that I will never wear tie-dye in the same way again.

  2. November 19th, 2009 at 14:25 | #2

    How drunk were those girls?

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