The other day, as I was leaving a friend’s house, I commented on a small child’s school desk that sat next to the front door, the kind made of wood on a wrought iron frame, with a seat that folds up or down, and an inkwell in the upper right corner of the desk.
I mentioned that I sat at such a desk all through my 8 years of grammar school (what’s now called elementary school). She was amazed.
“I bought this at an antique store!” she exclaimed.
Yep, that’s me – an antique. But not that old! Only in the U.S. would we call a 60-or-so-year-old desk an antique.
The rest of the world has a much grander grasp of time. The U.S., though, is a baby. A teenager. We have only a few hundred years of history. The blink of an eye. So anything remotely old seems, to us, ‘antique.’ In Europe, school kids have to memorize thousands of years of monarchs, wars, architecture, religions, etc. A mind-boggling amount of information, for an American. When they find out how little we have to memorize over here, on this side of the Atlantic, they’re always jealous…and a bit condescending.
When I moved to California (from New York), I was taken aback by the road sign I saw as my new husband and I drove towards Folsom. “Visit historic Folsom,” it said. Founded in 1856, it’s only been a city since 1946. The house I grew up in was way older than that!
An antique? Not quite. It was just my school desk. 🙂