The Case for a Generation Gap

Several things happened in Senegal that could have happened anywhere else. The following situations could have happened on a road trip to Cleveland, weaving through aisles at the Macey’s grocery store, turning tricks on the corner of University Avenue and 1230 North, Family Home Evening after the lesson and before one of those weird acting games, Sunday School as a part of a way-off-hand comment, Squaw Peak, doing Squaw Peak things.

Or, maybe not. I was crammed with 20 other strangers who knew nothing about each other when we left America, and when we returned, maybe some of us ended up knowing more than we could have ever expected. Maybe some of us didn’t know enough. Regarding my age, I really like to keep people guessing. It’s fun, and I wonder how long I can keep it up. Much to their credit, none of my guy classmates asked for my age, and much to their credit, quite a few African men asked for my age.

But let’s see, here. In order to prove this could have happened anywhere, first I’ll describe what happened in Africa, then I will try to recreate the scenario in each of the settings I listed in the first paragraph.

How old ARE you?
Our very first week, in the hotel lobby waiting for something to do or somewhere to go, I sat by a girl and her roommate. She asked the question outright, and then I responded with something like, “Well, two weeks from Sunday I’ll be [this old].” And as quickly as her brain received that information from her very efficient synapses, she reacted with “HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA” then everyone else in the hotel lobby turned to look at us. The girl’s roommate calmly added, “See you could be [this age], and you could be 12.”

On a roadtrip to Cleveland, we start talking about drivers licenses and ask each other how old we were when we began driving. The driver swerves quickly to avoid hitting a deer, and I spill my Bugles everywhere, and I yell at the driver and start talking like a little kid, about how we all could have died. Then the driver asks how old I am, and then I tell him, and he starts laughing so hard we accidentally drive off a cliff and die.

At the Macey’s grocery store, I look at the shelf of vitamins and ask a friend what kind of vitamins I should get. She asks me my age, and I tell her. She then hands me a bottle of Centrum Silver. I chase her around through the aisles, giggling like a little kid and ignoring my arthritic shoulder. If only I had dentures to chuck at her.

On the corner of University and 1230 North, I’m wearing a very flattering outfit. I wave at passing cars with attractive young men in them. Some cars stop, and we talk briefly. Some guys ask my age, and no matter what I say, they let me into their cars.

At Family Home Evening, one of my roommates asks around the ages of everyone. Mine comes up and everyone automatically appoints me the mom. (This is sort of a true story, except one of my roommates calls me the mom of the apartment. She tries not to make it about age, but more about keeping her in line. That’s better, I guess?) I get up to leave and tell everyone that they’re all grounded.

During Sunday School, maybe we’re learning about Abraham and Sarah. Maybe not. Maybe it’s Methuselah or we’re just discussing how old everyone was in the Old Testament. I’d leave before they started snack time and after a rousing round of “Do As I’m Doing.”

The only thing I’ve done at Squaw Peak was watch a meteor shower.

Oh, I saw that in the theater.
This is what I said when someone was talking to me about the movie Meet Joe Black. Then, because Hocus Pocus showed on the television in Senegal, I commented that I also saw that in the theater.  What else did I see in the theater? Back to the Future. What could I have seen? Gremlins, E.T., Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Ghost Busters, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the Princess Bride.

On a roadtrip to Cleveland: “So, do you want to be Thelma or Louise?”

At the Macey’s grocery store: Whenever I’m shopping here, I like to pretend I’m at the Zabar’s and get in the cash only checkout and try to pay with a credit card and have Sara Ramirez get mad at me until Tom Hanks saves the day. Yes, I saw that in the theater.

At the corner of University Avenue and 1230 North: A car pulls up and asks me if I saw a certain movie in the theater. “No, I didn’t see it in the theater, but I could have. With my mom. But that would have been awkward.”

At Family Home Evening: “No, I have never seen High School Musical – any of them – and I plan to keep it that way.”

During Sunday School: “I saw Legacy about 957 times, and I only saw the Testaments once. The Church is true.”

The only thing I’ve done at Squaw Peak was watch a meteor shower.

When did you graduate?
So, my friend Natalie and I were sitting on a bus early one Wednesday morning on our way to Kedougou. (I just typed that into the Google search window, and my computer freaked out. Not a coincidence.) We were sitting in front of a married couple and behind a guy and girl sitting together and carefully watching the girl fall asleep on the guy’s shoulder and we and the married couple were whispering about them and laughing at them. The married man suggested we put a Book of Mormon between them to make sure they were a safe distance from each other. Maybe they heard us or the bus hit a bump in the road, because they suddenly woke up and she lifted her head from his shoulder. Then Natalie and I started talking about early-morning seminary, and I mentioned that I had Book of Mormon my freshman year. She said she did, too. Then she asked me what year I graduated, then I told her, and then she said, really, and I said yes. And she said, what, and I said, yeah, it’s true, so just imagine taking Book of Mormon eight or 12 years later than I did (since I wasn’t going to ask how old she is). So, that’s a fun way of doing that.

On a roadtrip to Cleveland: “Oh, I got my driver’s license my junior year of high school.” “Oh, yeah? When did you graduate?” Then the whole shock and hitting guardrails and laughing as we plunge into a ravine.

At the Macey’s grocery store: “I didn’t have to go shopping my freshman year since I lived at Deseret Towers, but my sophomore and junior years we often went to Smith’s at Freedom Blvd because we lived south of campus and Smith’s seemed the nicest place to go.” “Where’d you live your sophomore year?” “Regency.” “Oh? My sister lived there, too. When did you live there?” “1995-1996.” “Oh.”

At the corner of University Avenue and 1230 North: A car pulls up and someone asks when I graduated from high school. So I tell him, and he asks me if I’m the real cougar on campus. I smile and coyly shrug.

At Family Home evening maybe someone else is from Florida, a nearby town to Jacksonville. That person says they attended Institute in Jacksonville and asks when I was there and who I might know. I tell that person, then that person stops talking to me which is not uncommon these days. It’s pretty awesome, because most of the time I don’t want to talk to very many people to begin with.

During Sunday School, someone tells a mission story about when he was in the MTC just over three years ago. I can only shake my head and resist the urge to give the guy a pacifier.

The only thing I’ve done at Squaw Peak was watch a meteor shower.

There were other times, times I let slip that I have a younger brother and people would ask how old he is. Times when I told people that the guys at BYU are “too little” to date, meaning too young. Times when I really felt like an older sister to everyone there. Times when my roommate thought Ablaye was sooooo hot, like all the other girls did, and then she found out how old he is then seemed all discouraged and said that he was twice her age (they didn’t put the two Floridians together, per se, but it seemed they happen to put the oldest and youngest students together, in my self-centered mind), and I thought, he’s not twice my age, hee hee. Times when I told that story about when a professor tried to kiss me. A cautionary tale, I told the group at dinner. Only older folks tell cautionary tales.

So, let this be one to you.

Just live it up, you guys. I’m having a blast.

A little discussion.

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