It really creases me when people think I am a kid.
There, I've said it. Not that I am old enough to garner attention from the AARP, but I've been around sufficiently long to feel a responsibility to the world and my surroundings. Being called a kid at 24 holds a connotation of irresponsibility, sophomoric tendencies, unworldly views -- things that I have graduated beyond.
That said, I happen to live in a student area in downtown Madison; it's cheap, I like it. For the past year, I have shared my home with an older law student and an undergrad two years my junior. Now the undergrad has graduated, and yet another future-attorney-of-America has taken her place.
Last week, I found a flyer on my porch from the City of Madison entitled "All Right You Kids Knock It Off!" It explained, "Every August you students move out of your apartments and leave behind a huge mess. What would your mother say if she saw all that trash piled up on the street?" It even had the cutest, frowning clip-art man you ever did see. This letter made me want to bite the wagging finger it attempted to represent.
I was instantly appalled -- this was a lot of assumptions for one pink flyer.
First, let me explore the presumption of slovenliness.The students I know are pretty clean. Scratch that. They're freakin' sterile. My old roommate we dubbed the Cleaning Nazi -- she would put our well-being aside and gas the hell out of the apartment by boiling vinegar to remove calcium sediment from her electric kettle. Kettle before humanity -- that's some cleaning dedication. Then, when my new flatmate moved in, he reorganized all my cabinets, which gave me a panic attack -- I ran around flailing my arms and panting, looking for a Tupperware container. Meanwhile, I have been to the homes of others, well out of school, and had to climb over can collections just to get to the restroom. Students can be too hygienic, and "real world" denizens can be disgusting.
The next order of business concerns the flyer's assumption that people of all kinds in this area care about their mamma's word. Whoever wrote this message must not have received the memo that this is the biggest party school in the country.
Do they think co-eds were really thinking about mom when they thumbed through Playboy and high-fived with Old Style at the UW's first-place ranking on the hedonism scale? When the Girls Gone Wild bus careens down Park Street, do they really think cats are dreaming of the home-cooked meal they are missing at home? Have they seen the outdoor tables on Langdon Street? Do they think, when people awake after a kegger in a pile of questionable liquid, swathed in plastic cups and someone else's pants, head throbbing with hazy memories of the night before, that the first picture in their mind is mamma's? Silly, silly City of Madison.
Perhaps my biggest beef with this letter is that the municipality that that issued is the same one that habitually left my front yard in shambles after collecting my garbage. I've had to collect my trash bins from the middle of the driveway, the neighbor's yard, the street, and the sidewalk numerous times.
Perhaps if my front yard didn't look like a bunch of plastic buckets had beaten the crap out of one another, I would respect the City of Madison's aesthetic wishes more. But I don't. When passing piles of garbage strewn about, I just have to smirk. You asked for it, Madison.