Thursday, July 7, 2005

The New New

Almost thirty years old and still living with your parents? No problem; you've got an entire generation right there with you. Almost thirty years old and still not sure what to do with yourself? No problem; the game is confusing when nobody reads the rules. Almost thirty years old, unmarried, with no prospect of starting a family of your own? No problem; 28 is the new 18 - you fit in just fine.

You're yelling at me from across the table. The other diners look over, but I ignore them, continuing to butter my bread. Pretending to listen - I'm somewhat of an expert in that area. "Tell me again how I should be living my life. Just one more time, please - I don't think I was paying attention the first hundred." You pose the same question to everyone you meet, to all of humanity, even, but there is no-one with an answer. Desperate, you're shouting into a void.

"Listen I-"

Worried that I might actually have an answer, you cut me off. "It's a quarter life crisis, that's what it is. This is all normal - just a part of life. I read an article on it."

"Quarter life crisis? Shit - even you must know that term borders on the ridiculous. A quarter? What, you're going to live to be 112?

You're calling me an asshole with your eyes. I can see it. You watch me take a bite of bread, washing it down with a sip of draught, studiously casual. You wait for me to set down my pint before answering, incredulous. "You're a real asshole you know that?"

"Sorry my friend; if such a thing as a quarter life crisis existed it would take place when you were 18 - a quarter of the way to 72 - not 28. It's time to wake up; you've already blown through at least a third of your life - maybe even closer to three-eighths. The end is coming. You might say it's right around the corner, even."

This drives you wild, and you're on a rant about living life your way. You're telling me of your plans to travel abroad to find yourself. I'm peering at you over the rim of an upturned pint glass and thinking about how hard it is to find nothing. I interrupt you with: "Did you know that no-one has ever actually seen a quark?"

"You're not even listening to me, are you?"

I am, but I'll pretend not to be - things are just more fun that way. I smile and lean back in my chair, soaking up your vitriol. We're like family, you and I; we know exactly how to set each other off. You're shouting, and I'm thinking of all the things I can say next: Being an angry young man at 18 is acceptable, fashionable even, but being an angry young man at 28 is pathetic, laughable. It's okay to reach adulthood slower these days; it's all part of the very natural deterioration, the weakening, softening, of our society. 28 is the new 18 - Oh, I can't wait to use that one.

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