Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One More Spin Around the Sun

Now that Facebook is whupping its ass, MySpace is returning to its roots as a spam generator: the front page is an obnoxious overlay of banner ads that almost make Shibuya look modest, with gurning pseudolebrities tying products into a Moebius-like infotainment bow. Recently, there was an ad informing me that the chick from the Harry Potter movies is the "new face of Burberry" - which I thought was specific pattern of tartan and shows how much I know about fashion.

Anyway, the point is that I glanced at the pic, glanced again, and thought, "Christ, she's actually kind of a knockout." I then smacked myself across the face because she's the chick from the Harry Potter movies. Gah! Graying though my hair may be, I'm far too bloody young to be an ODB yet. Hell, I'm not even close to old enough to be her father - not even her uncle. Some cold comfort came from a Google search, which confirmed that she is (in the most crass of terms) "legal" and, besides, considering a 19-year-old walking study in cosmetic construction & public-image topiary attractive is hardly perverse.

Still... what with the event of a new Potter film semi-annually for the past decade, the girl's grown up in public. Consequently, my mental image of her is of a blurry pan-adolescent, at once every age between 10 and 20 and all the more grotesque as a result. But Christ, if it's that confusing for me, I can't fathom how confusing it is for her.

One of my sisters told me she always thinks of me as 23, even though she's past that herself. Then on the other hand, I've been nicknamed The Old Man by friends and foes alike since high school. This mantle I wear rather comfortably, if only because I haven't felt like a child (or even a kid) since I could swear in front of my parents without reprimand. Living now in Tokyo does nothing to dissuade viewing myself as a premature curmudgeon: dermatologically gifted as they are, Japanese people invariably look ten years younger than their age, which leads them to assume comparatively that I'm somewhere between 35 and 45 years old.

That said, I sure as shit am not an adult. I'm not even a grown-up. My C.V. would barely be impressive if I were just out of university; what honed skills I do possess are better suited to busking than gainful employment; I'm shackled by no long-term commitments, neither financial, legal, nor logistical. For all I've seen, done, said, and eaten, I still feel very much the way I did when I first struck out on my own in my eighteenth year - though now, my teeth are a bit worse and I can grow a proper moustache.

As it should be, I suppose. Until I've earned a wealth of tried-and-true wisdom and I can beatifically recline and drop knowledge on whoever will listen to an old man, I'm perfectly happy just being... some guy. So my career path looks more like a gravel road to nowhere than a driveway alongside a picket fence - you know what they say about the road less traveled. For most of my life, I'd suspected that much of the métier of adulthood was amassing lots o' needlessly expensive accoutrement & shiny crap, and that the "stoic resolve" of adults was largely a head-in-the-sand disavowal of the panic realized by, well, being alive.

The same sister who imagines me permanently at 23 once made the distinction between most grown-ups - that is, taller, fatter, hairier children with drinking problems - and Real Adults. There are indeed some who carry with themselves a veteran stillness or wizened grit, who seemingly sprang from the womb a fully-formed 40-year-old, balding or with nicotine-stained teeth. These are the people, my sister said, whose seasoned, weathered voice you'd want to explain what shit is hitting which fan and when; whose steady hand you'd trust to chart a course through choppy waters. My sister's archetypal Real Adult was the Don of Canadian broadcast journalism, Peter Mansbridge. My personal exemplar would be someone closer to Tom Waits.

I'd like to think I possess at least some small measure of such worldly acumen and certitude of self. But as I said, for now I'm happy knowing that everyone is basically winging it every day of their existence. Perhaps the highest-karat kernel of knowledge I receive from my parents was when I, at 14 and upset over something undoubtedly more trivial than I could tell, asked my mother if "it ever gets any easier." Without a moment's hesitation and not one hint of melancholy, she said, "No." She didn't even look up from the sink as she said it.

What a lot of drama & worry that one word has saved me. Here's to another year on planet earth.


GF said...

This is very well written!

Seb said...

Cheers - much obliged!

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