Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pseudo-Teen Wasteland

This is a version of a writing exercise that I threw into a notebook. An essay emerged...Any thoughts and feedback are welcome...------------------------ This week, I found myself in a room full of lawyers talking shop. They were cordial, well-dressed, and inhabiting a world that I seldom visit. The world of the respectable adult. So it got me to thinking... I am caught between two personae. One is the rebellious teenager. The other is the respectable, responsible adult. The youthful rebellious teenager enjoys the romantic myth of being sullen and misunderstood with rich veins of melancholy resting just beneath the surface, an unspoken backstory of pain and hard-won street-cred that is hinted at opportune times. No one can FULLY understand me. I am the eternal wayfaring stranger in search of SOME truth in a cold, uncaring world of plastic smiles and artifice. The pathos! The drama! The responsible adult wants to let go of the toys somewhat. He wants to dress in khakis or the occasional suit and tie and be reasonably dapper in his appearance and demeanor. This is the half that can have a barbecue and a beer with the neighbors, chatting about innocuous subjects such as weather, local news, and sports(if I knew what the hell I was talking about). This is the half that would wear pleated, perfectly cut trousers, a bowtie, and a waistcoat, taking out the gold pocket-watch with a flourish. This is the part of me that puts an arm around my shoulder and looks at me over his glasses and says, "Son, isn't it about time you GREW UP a bit? Think about your prospects, maybe?" This would be my equivalent of the guy who advised Dustin Hoffman's character in THE GRADUATE that the (financial) future lay in "PLASTICS". The practical, hard-nosed, play-by-the-book guy. The pragmatist without passion. The SQUARE, basically... And even as I type these words, I come to the realization that the teenager is closer to my personality than the stiff. While I may have become more cynical and less wide-eyed with wonder, I feel more at ease in jeans, t-shirt, and a mischievious post-modern sense of EFF U attitude...without too much bile, of course. Which doesn't always work. The trick is to find the balance, not to let the cynicism override the wonder lest I become insufferably pessimistic, bitter, and nihilistic. It can weigh on you like the lid of a stone-coffin. But there are times when I would LIKE to fit in with a more adult crowd. A mode where I WOULDN'T feel out of place in a room full of lawyers or the denizens of academia dressed in their suits and ties; where I could pull off the pretense of respectability, infiltrate their world. Listen to me. "Pretense". "Infiltrate". I'd be playing a ROLE, wouldn't I? The respectable adult wouldn't be ME. So will I ever find a balance? In my own good time, I expect. As my hair gets thinner and greyer, as the lines on my face grow deeper and darker, maybe I WILL look the part. My body will ache as parts wear out and functions fail. As my flesh-suit begins to disintegrate, my mind will still be somewhere in its teens and twenties...Enjoying comic books, sci-fi movies and television, the regular buzz of coffee and alchohol(not at once, though),searching for cool action figures in the toy-section of Wal-Mart, writing letters, browsing in bookstores and card-shops... I want to think that I will still have passions as the years progress. A passion to communicate original ideas, a passion for humor and absurdity as dark and twisted as it may sometimes be, a passion for that which is REAL in this vapid culture of glossy surfaces, cross-promotional demographic marketing, and nauseating reality-television aritifice. Whatever I experience, be it happy or sad, ridiculous, or deeply profound...I want it to be REAL. Devoid of the time-filling chit-chat that we slather our lives with to convince ourselves that we are """"normal"""". REAL is normal and that's what I want to be. And if I achieve this by seeing the world through the eyes of a halfassed misfit teenager, the so be it. Bring it on. However, as a concession of maturity, I don't think I'll be using that sound-bite from KILL BILL VOL.1 which would make a PERFECT answering-machine message. Goes like this: Lucy Lui exploding with: "Now if ANY of you sons-of-bitches have ANYTHING TO SAY, NOW'S THE F--KING TIME!" Sigh...Would have been perfect. GaP


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