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I'm older than I've ever been and now I'm even older

So. Working in an academic library is good for making a person feel old. Usually that’s just the inevitable effect of actually being so much older than the students who work and study here. I mean, just chronologically older. I remember things that happened before they were born. Even the rising seniors were born in—what—1988? When I was in college, anyway. Most of them were born after the Berlin Wall fell, and only have the vaguest recollection of the world before the iMac. So somebody doesn’t know who Dorothy Hamill was, and I feel old.

There’s another kind of feeling old, though, which has less to do with chronology and more to do with—I was about to say maturity, but I think that’s not quite right. Let me give you an example.

Bookends disappear from our library at a rate that surprises me. Who steals bookends? And we’re not, of course, talking about fine fancy bookends, marble horseheads and sparkly geodes. We’re talking industrial library bookends, Ls of metal. Like this or this, only older and cruddier. Right? They cost about a buck a piece, maybe, and we probably buy them by the gross, and they are covered with the grime and book dust of years of use. Who would steal them?

The answer, of course, is that nineteen-year-old college kids would steal them. Of course. When I was a nineteen-year-old college kid, I might well have stolen a bookend or two. I don’t think I would have, you know, taken one off the shelf and left the books to topple over, but if there were an extra one lying about, I might well have thought I could use that and slipped it into my satchel. I wouldn’t have even thought about it much. It wouldn’t have been the cost—even then, a couple of bucks wouldn’t have been prohibitive. It would have just been the self-absorption and arrogance of the nineteen-year-old college kid, who just sees a thing, thinks I could use that, and takes it.

Not that everybody is like that at nineteen. And not that everybody is different at forty. But I was, and I am. Or nearly forty, anyway. And that, you see, is making me feel old in a different way than my recollection of, oh, Peter Frampton.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Oh, come on now, V. You're not a day past thirty-blob.


For me, the generational thing manifests in the form of In Loco Parentis (where loco means "crazy," not "in the immediate viscinity"). I see young people just heading off to college for the first time, and adding the name of a new boyfriend or girlfriend to their bank acount(s). I want to ask if they have any idea how this new love of theirs handles money, and if they are prepared to spend years working off any damage the new significant other does to their credit once s/he is no longer significant.

"In my day, we just had sex. We didn't engage in *that* sort of risky behavior!"

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