The Time When!

Whether you’re 25, 46, 71 or only 15, some days you wake up and just feel old.  You look at the world and realize today is not the day to play because the game of life has gotten too damn complicated.  You remember a simpler time when things were straightforward and you knew all the rules.  A time when the days were long and bright and the nights romantic.  I time when – well, you get the idea – a time when it didn’t seem like an endless fight just to be alive.  Don’t get me wrong: I have no desire to turn back the clock.  The good old days are a myth propagated by grumpy old people who can’t figure out why they aren’t cool anymore.  (Maybe it’s cuz they use words like cool?)  However, on a bright autumn morning when the coffee’s really good and there’s jam for the toast, there’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic.

Here are a few things, from a more elegant age, that I remember.

When people dressed up for important events like wedding, funerals and court appearances.  Women wore their breasts inside their clothes, and men looked like they’d taken a bath – recently.

The days when you could see the pictures in an art gallery and not the backs of a bunch of cell phones and the half faces of morons taking selfies.

When the lyrics to popular songs didn’t prominently feature body parts, sexual positions, robbery, obscenities, weapons or murder — and you could actually sing them to children.

A time when people didn’t scold each other for the sport of it.

A time when young people had all the questions, not all the answers.

The sweet satisfaction of slamming the phone down in some asshole’s ear.

The days when the relationship between men and women was not adversarial.

Irony, satire and wit.

When you could order coffee without reciting the recipe, and you got to drink it out of a real cup.

A time when ladies and gentlemen acted that way.

Lunches that didn’t come wrapped in paper and look like they’d been run over by a truck.

When gluten wasn’t the scariest thing on the planet.

A time when you could ride public transportation without being forced to listen to somebody else’s one-sided telephone conversation – 7 or 8 times.

When the truth was not a moveable feast.

A time when transgender was real and not just trending on Twitter.

When people could disagree like reasonable human beings not rabid animals.

A time when Hallowe’en was for kids and adults had better things to do than hijack a child’s harmless fun to further their social/political agenda.

The days before Jell-o Journalism (I’m looking at you, Oprah Winfrey) when reporting the news was an honourable profession.   

A time when cheating in professional sports was retail, not wholesale, and the people who did it weren’t stupid enough to get caught.

And finally:

The days when you weren’t constantly looking over your shoulder for a politically correct ambush.

The Road To Hell Is Paved

The problem with life is bad decisions almost always make the best stories.  This is a fact that nobody feels all that comfortable with.  For example, the difference between “We made some tea and watched To Have and Have Not on PBS” and “We decided to open another bottle of wine” is massive.  One story ends with “We brushed our teeth and went to bed,’ and the other one gets lost somewhere around “After Tom passed out, we painted his ass orange and locked him in a row of grocery carts.”  See what I mean?

Both stories are actually true, BTW.  Obviously, nobody remembers the first one — like — who cares?  However, the second one is the stuff of legend.  It’s the kind of tale we tell at dinner parties.  It’s the one that is our public face.  The one that defines us as interesting.  And we all want to be interesting.

It’s not difficult to recognize the road to salvation.  It generally runs through tea, Netflix and conscientious oral hygiene.  However, the other road — the road to Hell — is paved.  It’s lined with ice cream shops and cheap alcohol, pretty girls and naughty boys.  It has hundreds of distracted side streets, secluded alleys and boisterous cafes, but never any toilets — anywhere.  It’s the perfect sexual moment interrupted by somebody’s mother, the wild ride to the wrong funeral and the time you passed out fell asleep behind Beverly Jenkins’ sofa.  In fact, the road to Hell is limited only by our innate ability to make mistakes.

Yet it is the road to Hell that protects us from being just another frump on the trudge to the grave.  It gives our lives curves, dents, depth and colour and lifts us above the relentless bureaucracy of everyday living.  And although the road to Hell doesn’t give life any true meaning, our adventures on it tell the world we showed up and got in the game.  And when we are old and gray and full of sleep, nodding by the fire, it’s the road to Hell we’ll remember, not the dental floss.

The trick is striking a balance between collecting enough uber-cool life stories to wow them in the Old Folks’ Home and staying out of jail.  (I’m still surprised Tom didn’t just call the cops!)

Originally written in 2015 (Yeah, I’ve been doing this for over 6 years!)

On Being An Adult

Being an adult is hard work.  It’s a lot more than just alcohol and porno privileges.  That’s why a lot of us try to remain kids for as long as possible.  However, for good or for evil, it’s inevitable — and nobody wants to be a considered a petulant teenager all their life.  (We all know that person, don’t we?)  So, here are some tips to let you know when you have, indeed, finally become an adult.

When you realize you’re never going to win another argument with the over-the-shoulder shout “I didn’t ask to be born!”

When you bring your lunch to work to save money and somebody eats it and it dawns on you that some people are just assholes and there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you understand taking a nap in the afternoon is a secret pleasure — not a punishment.

When having an adventure means finding something decent to wear on laundry day.

When you spend a lot of time, energy and (sometimes) money to get dressed up for a special occasion, and five minutes into it you realize it’s crap and you’ve missed Two-For-One Taco Tuesday – again.

When it takes more time to get over sex than it did to have it.

When you spend less time talking about the party and more time talking about the hangover you got from it.

When farts are no longer funny and have become a serious matter of trust.

When there’s only one person who knows exactly where to scratch in the middle of your back, and if you divorce them – you’re screwed.

When you discover some people actually believe the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are real and there’s nothing you can do or say that will change their mind.

When that bone you broke in 3rd grade comes back to haunt you.

When you buy two extra doughnuts and eat them in the car on the way home because you don’t want to share.

When you realize your interest in Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest Goop device or Meghan Markle’s opinion of the Royal Family is entirely dependent on whether or not your toilet is flushing properly.

When you finally comprehend that you’re the one who has to figure out what to eat for dinner – from now on – every night – until you die.

When it becomes obvious that algebra was a scam.

When you discover mean people don’t get punished for calling you nasty names.

When suddenly, for no apparent reason, all the cops are younger than you are.

When you realize there’s no law that says you have to clean behind the refrigerator.

And finally, two of the best:

When the age inside your head is lower than the one on the calendar.

When you completely grasp the fact that the essentials of a happy life have nothing to do with your job, your apartment or your car but are actually intimately connected to warm socks, good sex and Tupperware.