Congrats, grad!

The other day, someone I met five years after I graduated college asked me if I’d finished school yet. It’s not the first time this has happened to me. For once, I gave up, said yes I had, and accepted my congratulations. I’m not sure what I would have done if he’d asked any follow-up questions, like what I was planning to do now, or when my graduation ceremony was. “Well, I was thinking I’d spend a couple years unemployed—that’s been a popular thing for 2008 grads, you know, recession—and then I figured I’d take a job completely irrelevant to my degree. The job, in fact, where you asked me this question.”

Many years ago, I thought that looking younger than my age would eventually work to my benefit, and I’d be grateful for it. Maybe that’ll happen in another ten or twenty years. A year shy of thirty, it’s turned out to occasionally funny.

Once someone asked me if I live at home. I answered, “Do I live at home? Uh, well, yeah. Home is where I live.” It’s been awhile since I lived with my parents. A few times, older people have mentioned cassette tapes, then exclaimed, “I bet you don’t even know what a cassette tape is!” Once, this even happened with the color chartreuse. Granted, I was born ten years after they heyday of chartreuse, in the 1970’s, so that one might have had some merit.

Minor, persistant annoyances have been more common than funny stories. Since I have a job that’s heavy on the small talk, questions about school come up at least once a week. These conversations should be innocuous, ending with a chuckle and me saying, “Yeah, I’m totally old enough to drink and rent a car, and I even existed before Seinfeld came on the air.” Unfortunately, I have a lot of regrets about college. Such as: where I went, why I went, what I studied, why I studied it, and how. Instead of being able to leave the past in the past and do what I can in the present, that past is dragged up with depressing frequency.

Then there’s the tendency of people to treat a twenty-one year-old differently than they would a twenty-nine year-old. My partner is also young looking for his age. Because he’s more charismatic than me, he usually ends up with more funny stories in these situations. We’ve both had times when someone treated one of us poorly, then suddenly changed their behavior upon learning that we were eight years older than they had thought, pay bills, and are otherwise able to put up a thin veneer of adulthood. It feels weirdly like a sociological experiment. Like a man in a dress with sock boobs, experiencing how the opposite sex exists in the world, sometimes I feel like I’m experiencing the world of a person who is not actually me.

So far, I can only think of one time when looking younger than my age has been to my benefit. When a misogynistic creep was regularly coming to a coffee shop I worked at, and a lot of the women there were addressed as (let’s mad lib this: choose an adjective) bitch, I got off lucky with a daily “Hey there, buddy!” Too young for misogyny? I’ll take that.

Pieces of Summer Apparel that We should Burn

As long as it’s not too hot out for fire, that is.

Summer clothing involves a high degree of discomfort. Blame the heat, and blame water sports. Here are some clothing items that I recommend throwing on your next backyard bonfire.

Everything pastel

Science says that lighter colors are supposed to be cooler than darker ones in the heat, but I’ve never noticed an appreciable difference. Maybe this is why pastels are more prevalent in the summer, or maybe it’s some kind of preppy fashion thing that escaped from the country club and hasn’t been picked up by animal control yet. Pastels are watered down versions of real colors. They are the clothing equivalent of coffee with skim milk in it.

Shorts

If they don’t bunch up when walking, then they’re usually too short and involve more pressure to leg-shave. Or (for women’s shorts, anyway) they’re a more practical length but look like I’m supposed to be wearing them to a business meeting or postal route.

Flip flops

Flip flops used to be a mainstay for me. In high school, I would wear them to school with colorful toe socks. It was my thing. Now I can’t stand the way you have to crunch up your toes to keep them in place when walking fast. Forget running in them. And then there’s the irritating slap slap noise.

It should be obvious from this that I also advocate burning high-heeled sandals. I don’t own any, but I bet those ones made of corkboards burn real nice.

Women’s bathing suits

For any activity or event in my life, I wear functional, slightly shabbier than appropriate clothing. For water sports, I wear functional, appropriate…underwear? Um, what? Enough already. Last year I switched to wearing running shorts and bathing suit tanks for all my lake-going needs. Even practical bathing suits feel too much like pin-up wear, and those skimpy bikinis that are impossible to function in (I mean, as some kind of human being that engages in movement and isn’t interested in constant adjusting) can go on the fire first. Small things make the best kindling.

Unisex life jackets

Has anyone ever made a life jacket that takes cup size into account? I’m guessing this could exist, but despite frequent kayaking, life jackets aren’t really an expertise of mine. A quick search doesn’t reveal anything promising. If someone hits my kayak with their jet-ski*, and I’m thrown off and rendered unconscious, I’d rather not drown when my life jacket rides up over my head because I had to take a size larger to fit my boobs.

Plaid dress, froofy goth dress.

Are these sundresses? More importantly, do they contain flame-retardant chemicals?

Sundresses

What makes a dress a sundress versus just some kind of a normal dress? On one end, I’m reasonably certain that some kind of gothy, long-sleeved Elvira type thing is *not* a sundress. On the other end, I think something yellow and billowing with thin straps and actual depictions of the sun would qualify as sundress material. Material—see what I did there? So that leaves every other type of dress in the world as a potential sundress. I might not have much of an idea what a sundress is, but since the items I have previously listed don’t seem like they’d create a conflagration as big as the one I’m imagining, sundresses should also be burned.

Time for s’mores!


 

*Even though nine year-old kids are no longer allowed to drive jet-skis, I still assume that if I’m ever in an accident out on the lake, it will be a jet-ski’s fault. That’s probably not fair, because the most obviously drunk people I’ve ever seen on the lake were in a crappy rowboat with an outboard motor.

Humidfest 2014

In my last post, I mentioned my hatred of hot weather. This inspired me to write a post about all the things I actually do enjoy about summer, like the smell of cut grass, that help to balance all the unthinkably humid aspects of the heat itself.

That didn’t exactly happen. I started to write about cut grass and the wind in the air before a thunderstorm, and ended up on a tangent about all the awful qualities of summer that I hate. But it turned out to be more than a tangent.

It became a brainstorming session. Every Wednesday (because Wednesday is an awful day, the summer of days) from now until August, I am going to write a barely controlled, seething rant post about summer’s sub-par attributes. The posts may even show up on non-Wednesday days, just because there’s so much material here.

Summer trees from depcrepit fire escape.

Summer. Looks pretty, but don’t touch it.

Summer means difficulty sleeping. Summer means clothing I hate. Summer means that trickle of sweat down your back when all you’re doing is standing there thinking about how much you hate the world. Summer means no running or hiking, because you can keep the heat stroke and mosquitos, thank ya very much.

There are so few of us who prefer winter to summer. Every time I meet someone who shares this quality, it’s like sharing a secret winter-club handshake. You might be a Mountain Dew-swilling, monster truck connoisseur*, but as soon as you say, “Why won’t this heat ever end? I can’t wait for fall,” I will know you as a kindred spirit nonetheless.

That conversation doesn’t happen often, however. Small talk, for most people, is something to fill up the awkwardness of elevator rides. For introverts, it’s an unpleasant thing that happens when you’re trying to read. For introverts whose seasonal hatred runs in reverse to that of the rest of the world? Meteorological-based small talk is an angst-filled minefield.

Summer means, when my normal level of irritation with the world in general has been raised exponentially in relation to the relative humidity and number of degrees over 55 Fahrenheit, that the typical weather chat of acquaintances becomes a constant barrage of taunting. Even as I’m wiping moisture off my forehead, chugging water and gatorade, and trying to stay frightened deer-still because movement makes the heat worse, people come up and say, “Isn’t it lovely? I hope you got out today, it is bee-yoo-tee-ful. Enjoy it while it lasts!”

Then every winter, every day, when I’m trying to enjoy the glory and austerity of snow, I hear complaints about the weather from people who decided to dress like it’s any other time of year than the one it actually is.

Enter Humidfest 2014. Here are all the complaints about summer that I hold back during most small talk this time of year.

On Deck: Pieces of Summer Apparel that We Should Burn.

 


 

*You snob. Of course people who enjoy monster trucks can be connoisseurs. They say things like, “Note the sprightly quality to the ear-obliterating sturm and drang of Lightning Warrior Monster as it crushes that line of small cars. Quite uncommon.”