Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Be A Grown-Up Without Really Trying

Something bad has happened.

Something very, very bad.

Okay, perhaps I’m overstating things … maybe it’s better to say that something completely normal has happened but that it’s giving me the willies … the heebie jeebies … you know, freaking me out. It’s just that, well, I’ve become - *gulp* - a yuppie. Kinda anyway.

Now don’t panic – I’m almost as anti-generic white-bread America as I ever was. And I’m certainly not running off and doing anything totally wacko like voting Republican or anything nutso like that. But I have to admit that little bits of the Young Urban Professional lifestyle have crept up on me (though, let’s face it, soon I won’t be able to desperately cling to the “young” part of that statement anymore).

And that’s how it always gets you – by sneaking up little by little. Of course there’s the obvious things, like buying a house in ‘burbs (but, to be fair, all I did was buy a different house in the ‘burbs because, let’s be honest, I have never NOT lived in the ‘burbs). And getting married is, naturally, considered to be fairly yuppie-ish behavior. But then there are some things that are just a symptom of growing up – like how one day you have enough money to dine at an establishment that doesn’t feature a drive-through window and you think to yourself “Wow, this food that isn’t cooked in a microwave is actually quite tasty.” And, naturally, one’s ability to survive in a professional work setting somewhat necessitates that you learn how to fake being a mature adult, maintain a certain amount of responsibility and, generally, regard everyone you work with – including those that you find annoying in every way – with the type of refrained civility you would have never had the fortitude to exude in your younger, “Jersey Shore” (or if you’re my age use this reference: “Real World”) years.

Of course there are some people who refuse to do these things. Those who believe that the mere process of growing as a person means that they are being untrue to themselves (which is sort of hilarious in my opinion. Imagine being a child and refusing to grow up … insisting that if you learn your ABCs that you’ll totally be “selling out”). But, growing up doesn’t, by default, mean that you lose yourself … it isn’t growing up and doing “adult” things that makes you a mindless, zombie yuppie.

No, that manifests itself in different ways … like when it’s New Years Eve. And here you are – married and living in suburbia – and you get an invite to a NYE party at a friend’s house. You spend the whole day debating if you should get dressed up and drive 20 minutes to the party when, in reality, all you WANT to do for New Years is put on some fuzzy pjs, pour a few fingers of finely aged Scotch into your Crate & Barrel tumblers, curl up by the fireplace and ring in 2012 watching Anderson Cooper on CNN. Of course you don’t want to be lame so you force yourself to go to the party, picking up a case of crappy Bud Select 55 along the way. At the party you look around at your friends – nursing their cheap beers and strawberry wine (you know who you are – you rebel who refuses to accept that any beverage could surpass the flavor of the Arbor Mist you’ve been drinking since Freshman year), knowing that no one wants to drink too much because, well, we’ve all got to drive home. When someone suggests beer pong we all agree but have long forgotten the rules for said game and, naturally, we decide to play the game in the garage so as not to damage the carpet inside the house. For a table you use the pantry door – of course you know how to properly remove a door from the hinges and you use one of your many power tools to get the job done effectively. Between turns you discuss the virtues of your friend’s garage, impressed by the sealant he used on the floor – it looks so clean! At 12:05 you wish your friends goodbye, drive home and immediately curl up in bed.

Now don’t get me wrong – GAR and I are still very fun-loving, active people. And I have, naturally, noticed a greater appreciation for the simple, relaxing things over time. And, honestly, wanting to spend the evening at home with the one you love is pretty much the ultimate sign of happiness – not anything more sinister, Again, I think this is a normal shift associated with not being 19 anymore. This scenario in itself is not new – nor do I think that most of the events of that evening make me a yuppie. But discussing someone’s garage floor with actual interest and envy? Okay, you got me – that’s a new one. And that’s what’s got me concerned.

If only I could say it was just that one time. That it didn’t mean anything to me. That I would never do it again. But then it happened a second time, just a few days later, and this time it was an intense discussion over another friend’s solar heating system for their pool. I’m so ashamed.

What’s next? Will I soon be coveting a new garbage disposal system? Pining over Brookstone air purifiers?

I thought I was okay … it didn’t seem wrong to want to renovate my outdated bathroom, paint over the teal shutters on my house or even to make my yucky pool swim-worthy again. These are “cool”-ish things. Pretty things. Things that anyone would want in order to have a kick-ass pad. But garage flooring? No – I’ve clearly gone too far. My candy apple red mid-life crisis Mustang does NOT need a posh place to rest its tires. Only a totally white-bread yuppie would want something like that.

Somehow I have to undo this. Maybe I can go out this weekend and make a totally irresponsible, immature purchase – like a futon or, at the very least, a “What Would Scooby Doo?” t-shirt.

Or maybe I can just continue to be me. And I can do that while allowing myself to grow up a little and be okay with that. I learned my ABCs, perhaps now I can master my colors. And, who knows, once I figure out what exactly “persimmon” looks like I might just realize that it’s the perfect shade to paint that unused guest bedroom of mine.

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