If my generation won't mature and the Boomers won't grow up, who's going to be the adult around here?
I still remember the awkwardness of it, the overall feeling of wanting to take a shower ... or vomit. It wasn't so much from the repulsion, as I was repulsed, but it was the feeling of betrayal and surprise. I was 18 and in college. Adults had always been my mentors and friends, guides and caretakers. I was not prepared for a world where people who looked and were the same age as my parents and grandparents would lustfully leer at me without shame. I definitely wasn't prepared to be seen as a sexual object by someone who I'd admired and saw as a father figure, but somehow I found the strength to politely decline his offer and walk away without throwing up on his shoes.
I realize that old men have pursued young women since there have been young women and old men. This was not new. But was odd was how immature this older gentleman had been. How badly in wanted to be in on the latest trends and slang. How familiar he was with other youths. How he was still chasing youth even though it had long left his wings.
My parents, "boomers" yet technically not "boomers" as they were both born during WWII and not after, had more in common with their Depression Era parents than the 50 somethings behind them who chased Botox and the latest clothes and liposuction and some eternal elixir that would restore them to the vim and vigor of that Age of Aquarius. My parents seemed happy to be older, maybe not happy with the health issues and the slowing down, but happy to not be caught up in the pursuit, of having their worth measured by their exterior and how any toys they had. Even as young people, they simply didn't care about those things that much.
As I often joked, it was like they were both born "old."
But after I left home I noticed a dearth of adults anywhere. I looked for mentors and found competitors. I found people who looked like my parents, but did not trust me, did not want to help me and became my rivals. Visions of Ralph Ellison flashed in my head and all those letters written for Anonymous in "Invisible Man." All those letters that lead to nothing that in so many words said, "Keep that Nigger Boy Running."
So many times I wondered if that's what my "mentors" were doing for me as I rammed my head against the wall over and over in pursuit of my career. Were they just keeping me running in order to keep their places?
But there is another side to this. I've heard many people my age complain that the older generation needs to step aside. That they refused to be moved. That they are more our rivals than mentors. But as my mother has often quipped "step aside and be replaced by whom?"
While my good friends were studious and serious minded, a lot of my peers were just as shallow as their parents. They were consumed by clothes and styles and money and trends and the appropriation of the heirs of adulthood without actually becoming adults. They could drink and curse and screw, but they were incapable of processing the acts as anything more than shallow narcissism.
The notion of some of these individuals in charge of anyone but themselves was/is horrifying. I watched men maintain their boyishness in an arrested state of adolescence where there was scarcely in any furniture in their home but they had the largest TV possible and marriage was something to be put off indefinitely because ... well, goodness that could cut into Xbox time. And I knew women who were basically still girls, acquiring status symbols in the form of superficiality and dreaming of fantasy princes that were never, ever coming. Women whose comprehension of thought was paper thin as the money they wasted on playing dress up.
There is nothing wrong, per se, with video games or spending your entire check on Jimmy Choos, but if that is all you do, if every night for dinner is a plate of Jelly Beans and other confections of a superficial youth, are you really an adult? If you leave your sexual health up to someone else, rather than investing in birth control and condoms, how much sense do you make? Are you really an adult?
So for us, for people like us we are trapped. Trapped between adults who won't grow up and won't share above us, and children who won't grow up and won't learn below. And if everyone is in Peter Pan Neverland, who's in charge? Is our obsession with being forever young ending adulthood? I spent a miserable childhood dreaming of the day when I would grow up and of what peace maturity would bring only to find that high school had followed me into the real world. That high school never ends.