It occurred to me today. You know you've become a grownup when handling raw poultry no longer even remotely bothers you. This is not a trivial realization. I mean there are so few rites of passage in today's American culture. There is no grand moment when a guy in feathers taps you on the shoulder and says, "Go forth and be an adult." I mean what have we got? At 16 we get to drive, and we *think* we are adults... but absolutely no one else thinks we are adults. Not even the other 16 year olds. And you sure can't count college... College is the farthest thing from being an adult. In fact its exactly like being a kid with no adult supervision. I mean, okay there are classes... but hey! They don't even take roll! Dude! Not only is there rampant sex, drugs, and alcohol in the halls, but most of the girls are sleeping with teddy bears, as *well* as half the rugby team. One of my fondest memories of freshman year (admittedly I don't really have that many memories of freshman year, and absolutely *none* of orientation week...) was a rousing 2 am game of foursquare in the dorm quad. People would wake, look out to see what all the noise was, and exclaim, "Foursquare!" and get in line to play. We even had authentic little red rubber balls which we stole from off the roof of a nearby grammer school.
I suppose there are those unfortunates out there of my generation who were rocketed to instant adulthood by that surefire method. Pregnancy. And I'm sure they are very nice people, its just that I wouldn't personally know, as everyone *I* know avoids these people. Perhaps it's that we want to avoid remembering that we too might eventually have responsibilities that require more attention than putting down a bowl of water... On the other hand we may just wish to avoid the screeching, stickyness and discussions of parasites that can be picked up at pre-schools. I'm a little in awe of these people, I just can't think of a single thing to say to them.
So eventually, usually shortly before graduation, it occurs to you that you are supposed to have a goal in life. This is frightening, particularly since its hard to balance out a need for a psychically fulfilling, eco-sensitive experience with the need for a really good sound system. You find yourself thinking things like, "Where exactly can I get my body-piercing where it won't show through my power suit?" And how do I convince this mega-corporation that I've spent my entire life working toward the goal of doing... whatever it is that they do, which I'm sure they do very well, unlike their purely money grubbing non-eco-sensitive competitors. You begin to realize that the only thing you've really gotten out of college is that you are exceptionally capable of going to the library to research exactly what this new antidepressant drug you are on is actually *doing* to your brain. (Answer: No one knows how they work.)
But somewhere in all this you become a grownup. You don't actually notice it happening... but you notice the signs. Your mother begins to take over your brain and you compulsively clean any time anyone is coming over. You find yourself referring to your room a a pig sty, particularly if you have to share it with someone... If you drop something in the toilet, you just get it out. You actually *clean* the toilet sometimes. Changing the kitty litter box has no effect on you. You actually *change* the kitty litter box. And although you've gotten really really good at cleaning out the stuff that grows in your refrigerator... you are finding that less and less things are growing in your rerigerator. Whereas you have developed a sudden and uncanny ability to keep plants alive.
So we stand, the bewildered generation. Its hard to deny that we grew up at some point. But grew up to what? Prozac for the Just Say No kids... Is it any wonder we are drawn to those beer commercials where people just like us only better looking reminisce about childhood. The TV, the music, the toys of the 70's... The 70's! Wht could be more pathetic? The most maligned of era's, yet its all we've got. I went to a restaurant recently that had its dessert menu in a little red plastic Viewmaster. It made the meal, it really did... Me? I can clean a toilet and make a really mean chicken dijon, but I'll be damned if I can find a decent job.