Last week, in a fleet of minivans, the art school students moved back into their dorms. It was cute to see them with their families, a constellation of skinny-assed, disheveled spots in a sea of corporate conformity. Of course, each student’s artistically individualized costume looks exactly like those of all the other students. They are now roaming the neighborhood in self-conscious packs, a herd of antelopes that have shown up at the party in the same dress.
And they’re all smoking because it makes them look oh-so-cool. They artistically gesture with their lit cigarettes, almost putting each other’s eyes out with red-hot embers. I don’t think they all smoked before, so something must be up. A generational suicide pact? I can’t pretend to be interested beyond the number this is going to do on my lungs as I walk down the street behind them, and the likelihood that I will be plucking cigarette butts smeared with black lipstick from our pots of ivy.
Yes, I am an old crank, thank you. When I wore torn black clothing, shaved my hair into a Mohawk, and pierced my body parts with safety pins, it was the nineteen-eighties. Different times, and blah blah blah.
It’s weird out today, burning sun with bursts of cold wind. Rain is in the air. Trees whip back and forth overhead, and the cuffs of the art students’ jeans, which have all been artistically rolled to three inches above their ankles, are flapping around their vintage flip-flops. If Katrina the hurricane had come ashore here, I would have had no fear: our roof has a skylight, and the art students could have sculpted us a dike, or fashioned a dam out of found materials. I have nothing but respect.