Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Today's Rant Brought to You by the AARP

A few years back, I read a book called 'When Did I Become My Parent's Parent?' Man, it gets truer and truer every year. No Dad, you can't sell your house and travel around the country visiting relatives, staying until you wear out your welcome, and going on to the next one. No Dad, you can't give away all your furniture because you don't use it and then live in a house with entire rooms completely empty. No Dad, I don't think you can come to the YMCA with me and play competitive volleyball. No Dad, you can't get the other end of that desk and carry it down the stairs with me. No Dad, you shouldn't listen to everything a telemarketer has to offer and then accept it! And no, you shouldn't give them your credit card number! No Dad, I don't think you should drive straight through to Indianapolis from New Jersey. No Dad, it's not okay that none of the rooms in your house have been painted since 1978 -- we need to repaint. No Dad, you don't have to leave your phone number on my voicemail everytime you call -- I know the number -- you've had it since 1959 -- and it was my phone number, too, for the first 21 years of my life.

In one of the most extraordinary novels ever written, Alan Lightman's 'Einstein's Dreams,' one of the chapters imagines a world where time runs in reverse. We start out life relaxing and sitting around all day, enjoying life, with lots of money that we took back from our heirs when we died. We take trips, take life easy. We have lots of aches and pains, but every day they go away a little bit more. Finally when most of our aches and pains are gone, and we're more spry and agile than we've ever been, we go to work. They have a party for us, and we start out in a high-powered job, the big boss or a high-level manager, making lots of money, making lots of decisions, living in a nice big house. Every few years, the company takes away some responsibility and gives us a lower level job for less pay but one that's less stressful and not as demanding. We buy smaller and smaller homes. Finally they put us in an entry-level job, where all we are required to do is answer phones, make photocopies, process data. Our bodies have become leaner, and we rarely ever have any pains or aches. We can stay up late almost every night, go out with friends after work for drinks, even stay up until all-hours on the weekend, go dancing, drink a lot, have a great time, not remembering the time when we had crazy stressful jobs and mortgages and family responsibilities. We unmeet our spouse and say goodbye for the first time. We have lots of sex, and since we unbought our houses, we rent small apartments in trendy neighborhoods and all in all have a really great time. Then comes the time when we can't really do our job anymore, but the fun nights and drinking and sex and partying continues. We enter college to unlearn all the things we're not going to need to know anymore, since we've given up working for a living. We spend four years in college, having the time of our lives, then we tune it down a notch and go to high school. We experiment with sex and alcohol, maybe even drugs or marijuana. We undo a lot of homework. We move back in with our parents who are just in the middle of life and working all the time. They support us. We play sports, join clubs, hang out with our friends. Our bodies start changing and soon we aren't capable of having sex anymore, but very quickly, we forget about it entirely and lose interest. We become virgins. We go to grammar school and only deal with the basics of information that we'll need for our last few remaining years. Food is always provided. Finally for our last 5 years of life we stay at home and just play. And play. Until we lose all knowledge and exist solely for the benefit of our body functions: eating, sleeping, pooing and peeing, cuddling, laughing, being hugged and loved and called cute. Finally as our body becomes smaller and smaller and smaller, until one day everyone makes a huge fuss over us, and we are done. Everyone forgets us immediately, because we've never existed. Sorry, Alan, sue me if you want, but if everyone who reads this buys 'Einstein's Dreams' and loves it to death, maybe the spike in sales will make you think twice.

Anyway, I think some of our parents DO live life in this direction. Cuz they sure do seem to act like children sometimes, don't they? [Man it took me a long time to get to that statement!]

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