As there have been certain requests to somewhat raise the girly note of this blog again, I hit upon the topic of ‘getting older’. When a colleague of mine turned 30 this year, and literally fled the country on that occasion, I had little sympathy. When I myself turned thirty, I was conscious of a sudden influx of maturity, equanimity and wisdom that enabled me from that moment onwards to look down with incredible benevolence on those young folks in their twenties with whom I had to do. Looking into the future, I guess turning 50 also has a sort of romance to it. But 40 – that, I thought, might be possibly the only milestone birthday (goodness me, there seems to be no proper translation for this concept!) that might be thought depressing. However, one has to face these things – and some time ago I realized that 40 was the age at which one could leave behind oneself all attempts of appearing ‘youthful’, and instead, turn eccentric.
Proposing that idea to a group of female friends, I was met with astonishing enthusiasm. But the question also came up: What would you do to be eccentric? Personally, I would have my hair cut quite short, either dye it bright red or (as this is unfortunately too an common idea) just leave it to grey in a haphazard and undyed way; wear glasses with broad black rims (I know, they are fashionable now, but hopefully will not be by then) and look at students coming into my office over the rim of these; I will wear brightly coloured clothes of unusual cut, and large necklaces (I am even pondering if the option of wearing huge, unusually shaped earrings might not be worth to get myself earring holes, but I think it is not worth it). Of course one would not have a television, or a car, and steadfastly refuse to be on twitter, facebook, or whatever new fad might be around by then. Already, I have started to use a fountain pen and bought myself a paper (!) diary for 2013.
Aelianus also suggested to me to put a quote of Cato or Varro in every one of my lectures (though unfortunately they were not as prolific on meadows as they were on other agricultural subjects).Forty would also be the time to start saying: ‘I call it Elymus repens. I do not care what they choose to call it now: they will change it back or to something else in five years’ time, anyway, and I am beyond caring for these short-lived whims.’ Having even the slightest tinge of a British sense of humour (by association) would make one an eccentric in Germany in any case. One could add to this by frequent references to Terry Pratchett (may God grant him the grace of conversion), Woodhouse, Dorothy Sayers, and 19th century English novelists, besides, please God, being offensively Catholic.
Yet: is the potential already exhausted? Any creative ideas would be welcome.