Old and New 

School officially started yesterday, and like thousands of college students before me, I stood in the lines to buy a parking sticker and get books, earlier. Fortunately, as I have done this for so long, I don't have to stand as many lines as I used to. Even in both of the lines I stood in yesterday, there were at least a couple of freshman who stood in line for half an hour before realizing or being told they were in the wrong line. Been there and done that, but thank God that I know better now.

The financial aid line I stood in the other day was the only line where student's parents stood with them, which is because it is about money. But it was interesting to watch the parents and how they behaved in line. Almost every mom and dad took one of the flyers outside of the door and made their kid read one in a gesture of "you-better-think-about-this-now." The students were too busy watching each other, or pretending not to watch, to pay attention to anything their parents were saying. The one exception was a dad who was standing in line by himself because the daughter got upset over something and stormed out away from him. I felt a little bad for him, because unlike the other parents who were dressed in a New England fantasy of middle class, this guy looked like he climbed out of the woods after a month of logging. He wore jeans that were visibly caked in dirt and wore a stained white T-shirt. Later, the whole family returned to ask him what he wanted from Burger King. In a way, it was refreshing to see him there in line because he was an antidote to the bored sterility of everyone else. He seemed to be a little excited by the whole college thing.


But it was not all standing in lines on the first day. Besides working on unfinished projects, I struggled with the new desk I have in my office. The lower drawer gets stuck and, unlike other stuck drawers, I have not find the right technique to get it open. Part of me wants to say this is a security feature, but then I worry my files getting stuck in there forever. Therefore, I pulled in out the other day and found a shopping bag with the magazine card and receipt you see above, circa 1984. If you click on the picture and expand the image you can see where I've underlined the dates in red. Besides the fact that something as humble as a subscription card to magazines is actually a snapshot of American culture, I was intrigued by the the similarities and difference of the college experience then and now. You'll see Dustin Hoffman standing next to himself as Tootsie, The Computer as Time magazine's "Machine of the Year," and Steve Jobs on the cover of Fortune Magazine in a funny business suit. (Sports Illustrated does not advertise their swimsuit issue on the card which make me wonder if it was something they did in 1984.) But, what gets me is there is no reference to credit card numbers on the sign-up. And it is obvious that this card is just like the standard bundle of crap that gets stuffed in your book when you buy it today. Of course, what is missing are the three credit card applications that also come with it.

I have to say that the People Magazine secondary headlines crack me up. (They're printed larger on the back of the subscription card.) They are as follows: At Home with Mom-to-be Marie Osmond, TV's Sexiest Fitness Program, Is Rock Dead, and The Herpes Dating Service. Three words: Oh my God! I have no more comment.

28 September 2004
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