Tuesday, September 18, 2007

U.S. Impressions

In the past two weeks in the US, one of the things that strikes me most is the absence of wrinkles on middle-aged women on television. Geena Davis, Christie Brinkley and Oprah Winfrey are only a few examples of women in their 50s and 60s with unrealistically smooth skin. Some look good, others look scary, with their skin plastered against their skulls. I wonder how the numbers are growing among the general population and sense we are reaching a point at which it’s getting more difficult to age gracefully (aka naturally), that wrinkles will stand out even more among age-mates that attempt to maintain their young adult visage.

I’ve also noticed what seems to be fewer SUVS than before, and that makes me happy. On previous visits, I sometimes felt trapped by giant vehicles surrounding me on the freeway. Now, when I take the time to notice, I usually see at least several other small or mid-size cars. The giants are there, but no longer predominant. I guess it’s the cost of gas that may have driven people away. But whatever it is, I appreciate it. For the environment, for the safety of all drivers, and for lessening congestion on the roadway, I think the European model of mini-cars makes society a more pleasant place.

I’ve noticed the opposite trend in baby strollers. Maybe it’s just where I live, but almost no one walks around with a simple umbrella stroller. Despite good sidewalks and a flat, paved landscape, everyone has what one of my friends calls “a beast” – the stroller version of an all-terrain vehicle. I’ve seen them in magazines for $200-$1000 and it’s hard for me to understand what they can offer to make them worth so much money. A good shade, a convertible seat, a smooth ride, a statement of fashion or income, plenty of storage space for mom and dad’s accessories? Maybe after having a child I’ll coming to appreciate those things as being worth hundreds of dollars. But for now, I appreciate the used beast that my friend gave us. It’s down in the basement awaiting its first use. I didn’t even look at its features or test its roll. At the moment, it doesn’t seem important at all.

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