Some Lessons From the Teen Decade
One of my favorite songs from the classic rock group Boston is “Don’t Look Back”. Now that 2020 is here and I have 20/20 hindsight about the Teen Decade, I am not going to extensively look back on the past because it is way beyond the scope of this blog. It would take me books–which I am in the processing of doing–to describe what I encountered from 2010 to 2019.
Nevertheless, I learned a galaxy of lessons over the Teen Decade: Here are a few:
Like Marcie Blaine in the 1962 song “Bobby’s Girl”, I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t wear the coolest fashions, I don’t listen to the latest hits on the radio (most of them can’t hold a clarinet to the greatest hits of Mozart and McCartney and Lennon), I don’t spend hours taking selfies of myself, I am wearing partial dentures, I shop at five and dimes than at Five Below, and I am more fluent in Esperanto than in teen slang. But not being a kid does have its upsides. I can go to any bar or any naughty place in the country without being carded. I can reminisce about my peers about the “good old days” before Twitter, Netflix, Cardi B, cellphones, and Amazon Prime. In a couple of years, I will become eligible for senior citizen discounts, which elates me. Above all, I have developed traits that usually only comes to Greek philosophers or Old Farts–wisdom and cynicism. I am a little more judicious in my decision making than when I was ab young adult (though all too often, I still use my heart and my temper than my head) because I have pretty much have seen anything and everything over the years. At the same time, I have become jaded over everything from politics to sports to TV to the fries at “Mickey Ds” because I have–you guessed it–pretty much seen anything and everything over the years.
Job hunting sucks, especially when you are in your fifties. I have been unemployed a few times in the past but it was especially humiliating not working during the Teen Decade. I got distressed seeing countless jobs in the classified ads that required more qualifications than an opening at the Supreme Court or were fly by night jobs (you can easily spot those jobs because supervisors were usually named Jerry or Larry or Desiree from some postage stamp country) or were similar to the minimum wage McJobs I held when I was a schoolboy. And the less said about employment interviews, the better. Too many times, I mumbled to myself, “Why am I wasting my time answering stupid questions about my work history? I wish I was home watching the trailer park freaks on Jerry Springer and Maury Povich“. Unsurprisingly, I referred to myself as–SUPER VULGAR LANGUAGE ALERT–the most fuckingly fucking fucked-up fucked fucker in the solar system for I had all these fancy degrees and I had and significant work experience, but they really weren’t worth hills of beans in the real world. The comedian Slappy White was correct when he said the trouble with unemployment is that the moment you wake up you’re on the job. And unemployment is like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter–it is a shame you can’t escape until you hear the magic words “You’re hired!”.
More and more, I agree with perhaps the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, Linus Van Pelt, that there are three things one shouldn’t discuss with people–religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin (I would also add race and sexual orientation). With the rise of social media, it is easier than ever for someone to have their lives destroyed just because they wrote a politically incorrect tweet or acted like a jerk in a stressful job (believe me, when irate customers call you everything but Mary Poppins, you won’t be acting like Will Rogers) or, in the case of Papa John Schnatter, using the N-word. And I believe there is far less tolerance of people having off-the-wall political views than in the bad old days of the Fairness Doctrine. During the course of this blog, I have increasingly tried to make it as uncontroversial as possible. I have discovered to my surprise that I enjoy writing bad poems, salacious limericks, country and western song titles, and pick-up lines much more than discussing inflammatory issues.
All things are possible. If you have told me in Jaunary 2010 that within the next ten years, gays could be legally married, an Argentinian would be elected pope, the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series, or that Donald Trump would be elected president, I would have laughed my head off for ten minutes. And if you told me that I would create a blog, be a published author, earn a grant writing certificate, become an unpaid home health aide, and be rehired twice by my former (and now current) employer, I probably would have shook my head in disbelief. Maybe I should be more often like Don Quixote from Man of La Mancha and dream the impossible dream. Time and time again during the Teen Decade, what seemed to be totally impossible dreams became reality.
I unquestionably learned far more during the Teen Decade than all the years I spent in school. May the Twenty-Twenties be just as educational.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
A new year is always happy until the day of reality comes.