Do you ever have those moments where something happens, something strange and shocking, and suddenly it feels like the universe has tilted off-course and the world will never be the same again? In the past few days I’ve had about 5 of these moments. OK, that’s an exaggeration. It’s more like 3. But 3 is enough to make me shake my head and wonder how I got to be (almost) 31 and still be so naïve.
1. On the flight to Charlotte on Tuesday, I looked up from my book to see a girl in the row ahead of me reading Maxim. Now, guys read Maxim all the time, though most of them are smart enough to do it in the privacy of their own homes, where no one but the mailman and the box of tissues has to know about their reading habits. But women? That’s kind of rare.
So I looked closer and saw that the girl was about thirteen. My thought process went something like this:
--This is disturbing.
--Am I old and stodgy for thinking it’s disturbing?
--What does she think she’s going to learn from the “Dump Your Girlfriend For Me” column?
--This girl is 5 years away from ending up in Girls Gone Wild and saving the tape so she can show it to her grandkids.
--Even if she’s gay, it’s still disturbing.
--She probably wouldn’t like it if I reached over the seat, grabbed the magazine and gave her a lecture on healthy body image and self-esteem.
--Oh my god, I can’t believe I thought that. I am becoming my mother.
2. I found out that a good friend came close to being acquaintance-raped while on vacation in Florida. She’s a strong, street-smart woman who has no trouble asserting herself in situations that would tie my tongue in knots, so it was sobering to know that this kind of thing can happen to women who have survived their 20s and know how to handle themselves.
3. My college alumni magazine arrived and I made the mortal mistake of flipping to the alumni notes section in the back. Every time I read those notes, I make a vow to myself that I won’t read them ever again and then promptly forget about the whole thing until the next time the magazine shows up and I read the notes and remember why I made the vow in the first place. Because no matter how satisfied I am in my life, that stupid magazine always makes me wonder what the hell I’ve done with the last ten years.
At this point, almost ten years after graduation, it’s hard to remember who anyone is anymore, especially since most of them now have hyphenated last names because they’re almost all married. Many of them are having babies. Flipping through the alumni notes last night, I realized that boys with whom I once did tequila shots and then watched them throw up on the lawn are having children. Men who drank vast quantities of green beer that contained live goldfish on St. Patrick’s Day are now being called “daddy.”
Something about this just rocked my world. Then there was the half-page article on a guy I hooked up with during senior week. Scary mary.