Dispatches | March 05, 2007

In my honors composition class on Thursday morning, the unthinkable happened.  Many of my students arrive early to informally chat with each other before class starts.  A cluster of girls in the corner of the classroom were recounting the myriad ways they’ve convinced boys at bars to buy them drinks.  As one of my students in messy braids and a pink sorority cap and matching sweatshirt spun an elaborate tale that involved twins and Jello shots, I jokingly and demonstratively cupped my hands to my ears.

Of course they recognized the falseness of my gesture; they clearly can tell that I enjoy hearing about their antics.

And then one of them said it. 

“Oh, come on, Professor Somerville.  You know in your day you were just like us.”  The red-headed beauty who spoke these words smiled at me blithely.

Now there are two problems with her pronouncement.  First the assumption that I was just like them at their age, which I admit is, in part, true.  But the more troubling premise is that the day no longer belongs to me; it is their day now. 

When I looked at her with dismay, she said, “You know what I mean.  When you were in college.”

Yes, when I was in college.  If I had only known then how quickly one’s “day” passes, I would’ve found a way to slow it down instead of eagerly anticipating the next party or date or dance or girl’s night out.

Savoring the day is not wisdom easily passed on, mostly because it smacks of cliché and middle-age.  And yes, I know, it is hardly tragic to give up all-night bar hopping, boy chasing, and free cocktail guzzling for the pleasing routine of home, family, and work.  Still, the phrase, “In your day” leaves me melancholy.

Fortunately, my too-kind husband said after I recounted my sad tale, “Baby, you still have an in-your-day body.”

Ah, the ego-sparing husband…