The older I get, the more anyone younger than me begins to look wholly unsuited to deal with life’s big issues. It’s all a matter of perspective, I know, but whose idea was it to grant teenagers the ability to reproduce? Even at 30 most humans are too inexperienced to be good parents, yet I see them do it all the time. And 40 to be president? You must be joking! That’s right when the midlife crisis hits, and how are you going to threaten Putin and implement a secret Socialist agenda while you’re warbling on about the absence of Purpose and Meaning? Don’t get me started about letting people learn to drive at 16. It’s practically suicidal, and ditto for drinking at 21.
Naturally, I wasn’t always this cautious. At 19, I’d already been legally drinking in New York City for a year, so any other state law was considered by me to be a personal insult. Of course 19 is old enough to drink, and the state of California is nothing but a bunch of backwards paternalistic nannies to say otherwise!
By the time you’re 23, you know everything already – so why would anyone want to specify that a trust fund only kicks in by age 35, when life itself has ceased to function? I have heard of such things as a trust fund, though obviously not on a first-hand basis. I’ve also heard that this type of age condition, set in place by those able to give huge chunks of cash to their progeny (note to my children – this does not apply to you), never works anyway. The trust-fund-ee just signs it all away at the first opportunity to JG Wentworth and is bankrupt before their 29th birthday. Then they have the rest of their lives to gain Perspective.
Let me tell you a story about perspective. In my childhood, I had a favorite babysitter who was, in my eyes, the pinnacle of cool. She was intelligent, knowledgeable, hilarious, and yet she could still enjoy a carefree game of hide and seek just as though she were a naïve 9 years old like me and not a world-weary 14. Best of all, she concurred in my opinion that, not only was Micky Dolenz cuter than Davey Jones, but that it was entirely reasonable to think I might date him someday.
A few years went by. I recall saying good-bye forever to all four Monkees in a dream that took place in my kitchen, in which I was telling the boys kindly but firmly that I was no longer able to spend much time with them. They looked somewhat downcast by this news (I remember Davy Jones idly pushing buttons on Mom’s electric stove while looking at his shoes), and the situation was awkward. But it had to be done. By that time, I was getting closer to the worldly age of 14 myself, and had started to learn about Perspective. My favorite babysitter by then had just started college, and she came back for a visit. She mentioned in passing that high schoolers looked so much like kids to her, now that she was in college.
I was overawed. I tried to wrap my head around this concept, but failed. I recall telling her that, although I could appreciate that statement in theory, I had a hard time believing it would ever happen to me. It was like someone proclaiming that black letters on a white page are actually brighter in full sun that white letters on a black page at night, or that Nixon was actually not a crook. Mind blown, dude!
Now, of course, perspective has arrived and brought wisdom with it. In fact, wisdom descended upon me a few years ago, and I’ve been smiling like the Buddha ever since. No, I swear it isn’t the Prozac. It’s wisdom. Since I’m now enlightened, I’ll share some of my perspective with you.
The world isn’t going to end any time soon. This one is important. I got so used to hearing the doom and gloom over the years, that I’m quite immune to it now, and I’m betting that we’ll all muddle through somehow. Even Y2K didn’t kill anyone, and Nostradamus said 1999 would be the end of the world. You know what? It wasn’t.
There’s never a good time for anything. When should you have kids? When should you take a cruise? When should you quit your job and travel counter-clockwise around the poles? When should you stop being a lawyer and start making artisanal bath salts as a career? When should you ask for a raise? There’s never a good time for anything, so either jump in now or just forget the whole thing.
There is an eternal war between youth and age. Young people are insufferably smug. Or
completely dense. Or a combination of both. Still, they tend to have a lot of fun when they aren’t obsessing about themselves. Old people and slow and unteachable, and avoid any type of innovation or change like the plague, even if the old way is completely dysfunctional. I’ve always spoken into a large handle attached by a wire to a black box on a desk, why should I start speaking into a small, rectangular television that fits in my pocket? I never did that before! Still, they don’t overact to every little bump in the road like young people do and they don’t run screaming with their hands waving wildly
over their heads if they aren’t the center of attention at all times.
How I look is not your business. I know I’m bucking a trend here, but I’ve never thought that my personal appearance was anyone else’s concern. Even when I was young and edgy. If you’re going to be so amazed or appalled by my a) weight b) hair c) fashion sense d) eating habits, then why would I want to interact with you at all? Heidi Klum can kiss my fat ass.
And of course…
Be who you are. This one sounds simple, but it isn’t. Stop trying to fit in already! If you
aren’t fitting in, then it’s because you’re with a bunch of people who aren’t fitting in with YOU. Go find new people.
And here’s where New York City comes in. It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s a bunch of people just like you. It’s hard to be a square peg in a round hole, but what the heck are you doing in a hole to start with? Go out and find other pegs of all shapes and sizes and relax, already! Stop looking in the mirror and start looking out the window. If you live in a sub-basement studio on the Lower East Side, your window may not have a great view, but I’m sure you could go out and walk along the river or something.