Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sub Notes: Gallery of Youth

Homely little statue of the goddess Laurel, who is supposed to represent poetic inspiration

 I subbed in a high school library recently, which means I got to stand behind a desk sometimes and just watch them.

The librarian was watching them, too. “Aren’t they beautiful?” she asked, echoing exactly what I was thinking.

I was recently discussing this with a friend. “Even the not-so-pretty ones are still pretty,” she’d said.

Yes. They have fat, glossy hair and thin, glossy bodies. They are tall and strong and new and gorgeous.

They are works of art, these children, captured through the centuries, through eons even, firm in that age-old conviction that they are the first ever to be young. They are, and possess, every sense of the word, “ideal.” They are the infamous Waterhouse model and Queen Hatshepsut and sculptures of Roman gods riding off to war and Lord Leighton’s titian-haired princesses and Aztec sun gods.

“They have no idea how beautiful they are,” the librarian said. I think she was right. Youth has such irony to it. They know youth creates idols, worshiped in part because of its brevity, but they are still insecure in their newness.

Which is a good thing, I guess. And of course the not-so-new among us have beauties of our own that these children won’t discover until it’s their turn. And somebody else’s turn—for the briefest of moments, anyway—to make youth eternal.

High school boy asking me for a restroom pass: "Can I go number...." (Turns to friend and shouts across room), “ Which one is pee? One or two?”
Me: "That’s okay. You don’t need to specify. Really."


  1. Young, strong, and beautiful. Filled with anxiety, insecurity, and drama.

    What's the song Maurice Chevalier sings in "My Fair Lady"? ..."I'm glad I'm not young anymore"...

  2. "That's okay. You don't have to specify."
    Tammy, you slay me.
    But you're right. They're all beautiful.
    When my youngest brother was in high school, I told him to enjoy being young, because we're a long time old.

  3. At least the young man used the number system. I am not pleased when they ask to drop off the kids at the pool.

  4. Yeah, the wrinkles, the poochy-parts,the non-elastic skin have their own form of beauty.

    Yeah, right...

  5. Ah, but women are harder on women than men are. Men admire a woman's nicer qualities - different for each lady and don't dwell on the lady's flaws the way she herself does or other women might.

    If I see a lady with a nice face I think "What a pretty face!" If she has nice legs I think "Wow! What great legs!" It doesn't matter if the rest of her is less beautiful. He nicer qualities are what will stand out to a man.

    When I look at a teenager or 20-something with a perfect body and face they look to me like a porcelain figurine. Pretty to look at, but little content inside.

  6. When you talked about Queen and Lord and Roman gods my head started spinning - how can she remember all that? That quote was funny.

  7. I've thought that, too, how beautiful they are. *sigh* And they don't even know it. What is the saying? "Youth is wasted on the young." I suppose if they knew about themselves what we know about them they'd be completely indestructible and unstoppable. Maybe it's better they harbor some insecurities, eh?

  8. I love their taut facial skin :)
    To think kids are so angst-ridden at this time of their lives, and girls think they must wear make-up, when they actually have such true beauty.


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