On Being Nineteen

It was a very good year.  It must’ve been, because, frankly, I don’t remember it at all.

Did I mention that for “Oedipus and the Sphinx” I was playing nineteen?

[Nineteen what? –ed.]

Face 1

I was playing a nineteen-year-old, and though some people have told me that I look young for my age, my age, as it were [As it is. –ed.] is thirty-three.  Young for my age might be twenty-five, not a teenager, however late in the teenaging game.

Nineteen was my second year of college.  I’d moved from the freshman hordes occupying Thurston Hall – it housed a thousand – to the dorm that will remain nameless [Because you’ve forgotten in your old age. –ed.] to protect the innocent.  This dorm, let’s call it Hapsburg Hall, was filled with singles – in terms of people and rooms – and sported shared bathrooms on every floor.  Just like a locker room! the advertisements said.

Okay, maybe not.

Face 2

During that year I almost dated a girl.  I’ll call her Sabrina because there was a girl in high school named Sabrina that I thought was cute, and because I can’t remember Abigail’s name right at this moment.  So, Sabrina and I started hanging out, and she fit in well with my friends, and I fit in well with her friends (Okay, so we shared friends) and she taught us all the game of Mao (assuming that’s how it’s spelled) which is a bit like Dragon Poker in that the rules vary for nearly every conceivable circumstance.  It’s fun, if confusing.  I’m confused as to whether that’s why it’s fun.

But one day we had a talk.  I couldn’t quite reconcile dating her exclusively (though we’d never called it dating – or anything, for that matter) while still being attracted to other people.  Shouldn’t that attractionableness just shut off?  So I explained this to her.

The next day, people passed me in the hall of Hapsburg Hall, speared me with evil looks, and said, “How could you do that to Sabrina?”

Do what?

[Change her name? –ed.]

Face 3

Honestly, that was in my junior year.  The same year I also dated Laura Wimberly, whose name I won’t change (though I probably also won’t spell it correctly) because she’s from Delaware and those people don’t really care about such things.  You know what I mean, right?


So, at nineteen I had a crush on Kate.  She was a junior I knew through an English class and, if I remember correctly, through a creative writing class as well.  She didn’t live in Hapsburg Hall, though I remember where she lived as vaguely across the street.  It was close by, at any rate (though all of George Washington University sits within four blocks).

Close enough so that when she had troubles with her boyfriend she could come over and sit in my room and we could talk and hang out and I could give her advice on how to get back together with him and make everything better and give it just one more chance even though he seems like a jerk now really you shouldn’t make snap judgments and oh Kate oh why not just date me?

Later, when she was graduating material, she said that she suspected I liked her when we first met.  And she thought I was cute.  And mightn’t we continue to be the good friends we are?

Face 4

The idea for Oedipus was that he should be nineteen and clueless.  Clueless I could get down pat with a minimum amount of practice.  Nineteen, though.  The only thing I could figure was taking away my facial hair.

Weeks beforehand I’d been sick or just tired or something and so had stopped shaving.  I already had sideburns, so the rest of my face filled in quite nicely (thank you very much) so that soon I went from hipster to biker to lumberjack.

In becoming nineteen, in addition to taking experimental age-defying drugs, I shaved that beard (such as it was… beards to me call up ZZ Top or nothing, you might as well not even try) down in pieces.  I don’t often have an abundance of facial hair, so why not play, I say? [Say it. –ed.] No.

I ended with a moustache because Megan wanted to see me with a moustache.  The final day it was shaved to resemble my father’s.  His moustache that he wore, as far as I know, all through the seventies, was so distinctive that I never wanted a moustache myself.  People who know these things already say that I look like him, why make that resemblance more than genetic?

Face 5

With a clean face, I don’t look nineteen.  But, hell, if forty-year-olds can play Ophelia then I can be nineteen through the magic of television!  Or the stage.

Granted, those actors playing Hamlet and Ophelia and others far below their age are often doing so on a large stage from a distance in front of hundreds of people.  On a small stage [Patio. –ed.] close up [A few feet away. –ed.] in front of a small group of people [Say twenty. –ed.]


[Say it. –ed.]

I will not.

[Say it! –ed.]

I have not and will never have been nineteen.

[Again. –ed.]

This entry was posted in Living, Theater and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to On Being Nineteen

  1. dbrowell says:


    WOW the side view with your father’s mustache is uncannily like the photos from the hallways I remember.

    I have an internal agreement that I will never wear a stache like my dad and I hope he never shaves his for just these reasons.

  2. I was reading your blog with increasing horror as the image of you with that moustache repeatedly seared itself into the most horrifying recesses of my mind. You look very handsome when you don’t resemble Super Mario.

  3. Courtney says:

    I remember that singles dorm. I should have lived there instead of trying to deal with roommate drama all through college (although to be fair, my roommates were pretty low on the drama scale, but I never warmed up to the idea of roommates and only barely tolerate sharing a bedroom with my husband). You had the right idea!

    (I remember the name of the dorm, too!)

Leave a Reply