so, the neighbors had a party on Saturday. I went for a short while, ducked back over here for a while to get some food, and then figured I'd better go back at least for awhile, since I'd left rather abruptly but had promised to return, and didn't want to be rude. I managed to prolong my return to check mail and kill time, hoping that the party would improve with the passage of time. it didn't.
It's not that it was a bad party for the people having it and attending it; it's just I was waaay out of my element, and felt like some kind of anthropologist rather than a peer of any of these people. First off, everyone there was 18-23 (and that 23 is a generous guess, 21 is probably more accurate) except me and one of the residents' (3 girls live there) dad (?!) and uncle (?!). There were 2 kegs and nothing else to drink, alcoholic or not. The music choices were the Doors, Creedence, Metallica, or an alterna-rock CDR with stuff like that Moby/gwen Stefani duet. The main activity of the party was a card/drinking game called "asshole". The people that weren't playing cards were watching the card game. the CD ended and no one noticed for like 5 minutes. No one was flirting, having spirited discussions, or otherwise doing party stuff. lots of quiet conversations, occasional laughter, and people stepping out on the porch to smoke cigarettes or anwer their cell phones. Yes, answer their phones. it seemed like half these kids had them, had them turned on, and didn't see a reason to not answer them while at the party.
I had a few conversations at the party, all of which left me feeling odd and/or old. one of the residents' brothers was there, had seen my artcar parked in the hood, and wanted to chat about art. He's only 18, so I'll cut him some slack, but he was either fairly drunk, or rather unschooled. he kept saying he was better at analysis of art rather than creating art, but yet he kept mis-pronouncing "analyst", which makes me think we're not really gonna have a lot of common intellectual ground. As he complemented my car and was asking me about it, I gave him my standard sound bite about artcars shaking up the middle-class values people have; how people see cars as status symbols/resale objects of worth vs. the autonomy of the individual to do whatever one likes with one's possessions. I think he understood what I was getting at, but just looked at me wide-eyed and said "Wow, you're really smart". While this is flattering, and probably true, it was an immediate conversation killer. I mean, what the hell do you say to that..."Yeah, I know"? The only good follow ups I could think of in retrospect would only be applicable if I wanted to go home with the person speaking, for example:
him: "Wow, you're really smart"
me: "If you're smart, you'll follow me upstairs and make out with me right now"
him: "Wow, you're really smart"
me: "and you've got the brawn. Let's make lots of money"
which probably would not have made sense to anyone in this crowd, being that most of them were not even able to read when the Pet Shop Boys were first popular.
Which brings me to another tangent:
Q: How do I know if someone is too young for me?
A: What were they doing the year you lost your virginity? If the answer is "learning to read" or worse, "learning to use the toilet", they are probably too young for you.
(note: the above applies only to me; your mileage may vary)
anyway, the rest of the party was similarly bereft of intellectual stimulation. After a while, I figured it out. In college, there are a few types of students:
1) the brainiacs (honor students, the published-before-21, the inventors, the academic go-getters)
2)the future captains of industry/society (Frat/sorority types and others with vast social/monetary advantages; also includes the dropouts who IPO and make millions before age 25)
3) the misfits (includes artists, punkers, GLBT/queer students, protestors, geeks, hippies, freethinkers, weirdos, and others out of the mainstream)
4) people who are some combination of 1-3.
5) everyone else in college. They live in the dorm for awhile, make Bs and Cs, study something that isn't intellectually rigorous, though it may be academically "hard", have no real hobbies but like to go to football games or go out drinking once in awhile, and have boyfriends/girlfriends who are just about the same as they are. They aren't necessarily bad people, and some are very kind and goodhearted, its just that, to reference Socrates, they lead the unexamined life.
This party was only attended by people in group 5. And me. You see the problem.
Do people in group 5 get more interesting/deep as they age? Hard to say. Given the amount of adults I've run across that are like group 5ers, I have to imagine they've been that way for awhile. At first I thought I was just being a snob about age, since I was at least 10 years older than the party guests, but then I remember that I first formulated the theory of Group 5 students back when I was in college. Even when I was 20, I remember noticing the group 5ers: the assigned dorm roommate of some of my friends, the girls in front of me in the lunch line, many people in my required freshman classes (except the Honors ones. Those were all Group 1 or Group 1/3 combos). The saddest thing about group 5 was that there were so damn many of them, and that they didn't seem to be aware of, or mind, being in group 5.
So after my fieldwork among the 5ians, this anthropologist returned home, found a msg on my machine from Gentleman Caller, and promptly fled to his house for some group 3 company. Did not journey to the country to see the meteors owing to tiredness and relief at being "home". Being amongst people who not only care about you, but also understand you-- that, too, occurs infrequently in one's lifetime, and sometimes that's worth missing out on astronomical wonders.