In August of 1984 I took my first tour of the campus at Arizona State University. In addition to the sensation of walking around a tree-lined interior of a large oven, the youthful vitality of the students impressed me. Two girls in particular stand out in my memory. It wasn’t their tanned skin or long blonde hair that I found amazing, although in comparison to my doughy Midwestern pallor and Medusa hair, they were quite stunning. No, what made my corn-fed, oxford-shirted, just-burned-my-hands-on-the-steering-wheel-of-my-car brain go tilt was the large school logo emblazoned across the butt section of their shorts.
Yes, I did just claw my way out of a fashion coma and I wake up to find that people are using their asses for marketing purposes.
“Oh, I don’t think I can go here” became my singular thought-refrain. Suddenly everything about the place seemed over-the-top, mentally and physically unattainable. I couldn’t even understand the language they were speaking, a linguistic cross between Valley Girl and sorority sister never heard east of the Mississippi. I was a different species altogether from these willowy co-eds with writing on their butts. Before they spotted me, I ran back to my lair after purchasing some be-Deviled oven mitts for the drive home.
24 years and several incarnations later…
I’m standing in Victoria’s Secret close to campus. Classes are starting on Monday so naturally every female within 30 miles is stocking up on “University of Pink” wear. Me too, I admit it, but only for my pink-loving girls. As I look through the racks, I hear the unmistakable dialect of the ASU co-ed.
“Oh my gawd, I HAVE to have these shorts. They’re soooo cute!”
I turned around expecting to see the 2008 models of the leggy blondes I encountered in 1984 (and to see if I had to have those shorts too). Instead, the two young women gazing lovingly at the pair of shorts are done up in dark emo shades. Long hair dyed various hues of somber and depressed, India ink tats, piercings with sharp, pointy things (tastefully small and discreet but uncomfortable looking all the same), all this at polar opposites to blondes of 1984. The lingo was similar but with a noticeable amp up of obscenities.
I relaxed a bit. My 24 years of intervening life experience told me I don’t have to march in step to my fellow classmates. A worthwhile conclusion considering I’m older than both my advisor and my professors (except for one of them, an obvious fluke) and the squick factor associated with jamming things into my flesh. Finally, I’m okay. I wish my hair didn’t have streaks of silver in it and my eyes didn’t wrinkle so much when I smile, but those lovely blonde women of 1984 are considering a close, loving relationship with Botox the same way I am. Time is an equal-opportunity son of a bitch.
So, I think I can go here. And I am, starting tomorrow.
Walking out the store, I laughed out loud. The shorts-adoring co-eds walked out ahead of me, both with “ASU” logos blazing across their bottoms.
Fashion changes but the classics remain.