December’s Anecdotes

December 30th, 2007 § 0 comments

Determinedly milling about the book store, vainly hoping to find the fictitious book that combines the scattered and random countries I currently feel interested in, my attention was caught by secretive voices to my right. In an obviously less traversed aisle, perhaps it was manuals, two young girls, dressed in preteen fashion, were sprawled out upon the floor, sweetened drinks beside them, with the confident air that no one would want, wish, even could for that matter, venture down their aisle. While a vertical walkway divided the shelves, they eyed me suspiciously and distastefully, for bringing near them what I sensed was an adult reality-I was there because of what the books contained and was shopping them according to little signs telling me divined by country then city, while they were creating a private space for themselves amongst miscellaneous other meanings. They reminded me of the girls from Bye Bye Birdie, sitting in their bedroom chatting about boys, leg hair, and 15-year-old notions of love. I was suddenly aware of my intrusion, and while I tried very hard to give the impression that I really needed the books near the end of aisle, which of course I did, my concentration became focused on their words. I could see from the corner of my eye that they had Seventeen, or some other teen marketed magazine, spread in front of them, and were reading from it in tones that might suggest they were reading the Bible, or at least a good piece of fiction. I suddenly had a flashback of a “quiz” my older cousin forced my mother to take from perhaps the same magazine a long time ago. I remember my mother’s consistent answer of, “but I wouldn’t do any of those things”, my cousins exasperated insistence “you have to pick one”, and my own anger at watching her waste the last of our time together on, what seemed to be, a completely vile magazine. On the floor next to me the more authoritative of the two girls was saying, “would you rather be pretty or…” I could not catch the end, “because of you are like, pretty, like hot guys just come to you.” The remains of my teenager mind laughed, recalling that very fiction that used to be the reason why you needed to be pretty at all, and my current sensibility knows the viciousness of that lie and what it leads to. Little girls should not worry about hot guys, they should be doing, I don’t know, whatever it is that little girls do, but even so my pop culture references tell me that this is what little girls do; a sad and discouraging notion. I had heard more than enough, grabbed my books from the shelf and wandered to the cafe, for the first time annoyed at the infectious stupidity we allow. What is it they say in Ferris Bueller, “I weep for the future”? Weep, no, because I can’t yet make myself blame them, as seems most popular right now in American self-criticism, but I do worry.

ann-margret

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