Sunday, September 05, 2010

I'm A Boy & I'm A Man

Let me begin by quoting my childhood hero Alice Cooper. "Lines form on my face and hands/Lines form from the ups and down/I'm in the middle without any plans/I'm a boy and I'm a man/I'm eighteen." All true in my case if you multiply that last word by two.
Now I've never been one to bemoan my age or more accurately, my aging. For some reason I've never wanted to be older than I was, and as yet, I have had no compulsion to be younger. I put this down to laziness, but that's another topic. My worry, as it pertains to my age, is that I have never become a man in the way that my father or grandfather did at half my age. My dad was at sea by the time he was seventeen. I have two video game systems and there are four iPods within my reach at the moment. He was married with a kid when he was twenty one. I wore shorts to dinner last night and have five pairs of skate shoes. He emigrated to Canada with said wife and kid when he was ten years younger than I am now. I have never had a driver's licence. His dad owned a pub and was raising six kids by the time he was thirty. I wear shants and band t-shirts and have a mohawk for christ's sake.
I worry that I have become a parody, of an irony, of a cliche, of something-or-other. There are a few things I am doing to set myself on a more responsible course. Going back to school for example is a good idea, but not totally representative of the elusive mature manliness that I seek. I'm eating better and exercising more than at any other time in my life. I am hoping that the practical upshot of all this will be a slow gradual decrease in mass. Or a rapid immediate one for that matter. So long as I never have to buy another belt, stretch out another t-shit before I put it on, or have nice men in forklifts come to take me away to a land where terrified health professionals draw lots to see who has to wash me. All well and good but not, I fear, comparable to the feats of manhood my forefathers displayed.
On the other hand, perhaps I am being to hard on myself. Today I became my father in a most unexpected way. I remember a time when my mother got a new bank card in the mail, and my old man took it upon himself to explain to me the importance of personal security and his responsibilities in this regard as head of household. He carefully cut up the old card into about forty thousand pieces. He then explained how he would deposit the bits in a random manner in different garbage receptacles throughout the city over a period of several weeks. This, he explained, would prevent miscreants form reassembling the card and doing something sinister that neither me nor mom were ever clear about. This was all done with the utmost seriousness.
A few hours ago I was cleaning out my desk and undertook the disposal of a pile of credit card invoices, cable bills, old pay stubs, old receipts, and sundry sensitive paperwork. After tearing them up with a vigor, I placed them in three different, half filled bags of household garbage. I then went to the kitchen for some of my special, "security garbage". Into the bags containing the sundered papers went stale coffee, black bananas, egg shells, sticky take-out containers, expired yogurt, breakfast plate scrapings, and a goodly amount of my own spit. This organic barrier would befoul my shredded documents and keep identity stealing terrorists from..........doing whatever it is they do with this stuff.
As my girlfriend was laughing at me I thought of my father. If he was alive today (he is) he would put his hand on my shoulder and proclaim. My boy, today you are a man.