A swarm of ants, a cloud of gnats, a plague of locusts, a -- rash of interns? Call them what you want, they're here!
It's been a few weeks since final exams have ended at the colleges, giving them just enough time to study up on how to be a cool transient urbanite. Self-important clanking of your Steve Madden heels? Check. Petrified pose and stern scowl while waiting on the Metro platform -- to broadcast to all that you don't look around nervously like some out-of-towner? Check. Conspicuously loud disparaging remarks about the damned tourists? Check. Tourists I don't mind: they come here humble, hoping to sample some of what little the DC area has to offer. Transplants, though, I hate: they announce their arrival with arrogance -- I am living in a $1000 / month, vibrantly renovated meth lab in Dupont Circle. I am aiding Councilmember Spittleblarge in her crusade to speak truth to power by adding another descriptor to the name of the U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo metro station. And last weekend I was the envy of all the other bar sluts at some club in Adams Morgan whose name is so hip and edgy that you're not allowed to wear it out by pronouncing or writing it -- the YHWH of hip, edgy clubs!
I know boys aren't supposed to pick on girls, but there are no boys to pick on -- sure, the male interns have a stupid smugness to them, but it only pertains to their imagined sense of clout. For the females, though, living in a Big City is about so much more: giving themselves permission to enjoy a sophisticated lifestyle (please, read the link). Yes: now that they've completed their junior or senior year of college, their absorption into the corporate superorganism not far away, it's time for a makeover -- efface that juvenile countenance of easygoing giggliness, don your best Ralph Lauren jogging suit as you mount the career treadmill, and tone those deltoids sharp before entering the battle to out-Crate-and-Barrel the neighbors. Oh, what butterfly would wish a second transformation into a codling moth?!
Well, you don't get much more flowery than that, eh? Ehem. Anyway, I had my first premonition of Lost in Translation things to come when I was a senior in college surrounded by ebullient youngsters at the predominantly freshman/sophomore dining hall -- my friends were living off-campus and grocery shopping, plus the school had just totally revamped this dining hall. And now that three years have passed since graduation, my conviction's grown stronger that it's utterly pointless trying to communicate with females my own age. I realize that part of becoming somewhat less attractive and somewhat less energetic into one's mid-to-late 20s is biological programming -- you're supposed to have started a family by now, after all, so you don't need to be super-hot or engaging anymore just to keep your husband involved in providing for the children. Still, I can't help but think that the careerist attitude of most females my age of roughly my educational level is responsible for amplifying an already existing unpleasant signal.
And not to romanticize Europe, but I didn't notice this trend among girls in Barcelona, Paris or Rome. In fact, if you dared calling anyone under 40 a "woman," you'd get an earful of fiery-blooded Latin indignation! Here, 22-y.o. recent graduates yearn to be thought of as "women." When I first began working at a tutoring center for mostly secondary school students, I realized that girls weren't always like this -- they weren't that way in high school, as the current high school students reminded me. True, some of what these latter say is hopelessly inane, but their overall attitude is a breath of fresh air compared to that of the zombies I ride the metro with to work each day. (And I can't exactly say that yammering about The Da Vinci Code doesn't also qualify as inane.) But I suppose I can wait long enough until I get my ass to graduate school to search for a nice wide-eyed (and hopefully doe-eyed) undergrad sophomore. Everyone is served dessert; they just tardy in bringing it out to some (to paraphrase Leopardi).