01 March 2014

The Car Named "Adult"

"Once upon a time there was a car named 'Adult'". This is the first sentence of a story told by my sister and written down by my mother. When I was young, I would dictate stories to my mother. Typically the stories would be about a car engaging in some activity. In my stories, the cars were very thin avatars for myself as I wished to be: they'd get a pet lizard or learn to play musical instruments or meet up with a truck and a train, become friends after a brief argument, and eventually live in the same house (don't spend too much time analyzing the last one).

The cars in my sister's stories were a little bit different. My sister is a couple of years younger than me, so while many stories copied the notion of having a car as a main character, my sister's cars were a little bit less refined in their character department. They basically did random shit. Adult, for example, "swatted a cat", "drew up a frog", and "drank pink inks"*. My sister's cars were actually quite awesome. Rather than reflecting the mental state of a preschooler already (somehow) insecure, unsure, and awkward, they behaved with childlike spontaneity and the stories never had any resolution because no problems came up to resolve.

But the car named "Adult" is a very interesting case to me. Nominally, in the actually most literal sense of the word "nominal", the car named "Adult" is an adult. But in deed, he is not. In addition to his previously described escapades, Adult's story ends with him announcing, to no one in particular, "I love mommy and daddy and all my friends"*. Not very adult.

I'm getting to something, really.

Sometimes I think of myself of encompassing the duality of the car named "Adult"**. Nominally, I'm an adult. In terms of age, I am irrefutably an adult in the eyes of any legal system. I have all the legal rights, privileges, and responsibilities of an adult. Additionally, in a professional situation, I am given the responsibilities of an adult. I have control of software systems that a failure thereof has implications far beyond my own life. I'm expected to make responsible, rational decisions because of the impact the choices that I make have. I also pay all my bills, cook my meals without burning my place down, own mutual funds, hold down a job, pay my rent, contribute to a 401k, have a fantastic credit score, and generally do not live in total shambles without supervision.

But at the same time, sometimes I have no idea why I'm entrusted with these responsibilities. I'm petulant, sullen, and grouchy when overwhelmed. I fantasize about taking irrational risks. I'm spastic when I'm around people I like, sometimes I struggle to have coherent conversations when in groups, and my primary way of interacting with friends involves what is probably best described as a game of chicken that starts at good natured ribbing and goes further and further into dangerous territory. Certain social situations and mores continue to throw me for a loop. Sometimes I stay up late for no reason. Sometimes I'm hung over when I go to the gym even though it makes it suck so much more. I used to not buy bread because I love bread and eat it in ridiculous quantities when it's available. Now I buy it, but freeze it, hiding behind four pound bags of chicken breast.

Part of this behavior comes from a life philosophy that's somewhat un-adult. I feel as though a large portion of enjoyment comes from the divesting of responsibility rather than the addition of it. I can't image having children mainly because all the additional work that it would entail in addition to a full time job. I'm reluctant to add structured responsibilities and obligations and prefer spontaneous activity.

But that's dangerous stuff. While it has the potential to be fun and rewarding, there's a huge risk of it backfiring and making me look like a giant manchild, someone whom no one actually respects. The other day I went to the gym, took a spontaneous two hour drive with no destination in mind, took a nap on my couch, and then joined friends for dinner. I reflected on the day not sure whether such a purposeless use of the time was awesome or pathetic. I wasn't sure.

That's the problem. There's no resolution. I guess the only thing left to say is that I love mommy and daddy and all my friends.

*I might actually be misattributing these actions to the car named "Adult". There was also a car named "Poopoo Head" who engaged in similar antics in another fictional work. My similarities to that car are beyond the scope of this post.
**This is most ridiculous sentence I have ever written. I will most likely come to regret it.


  1. There's nothing pathetic about the day you described. Part of being an adult is deciding how you spend your free time. This is coming from someone who plays video games with about 90% of his free time, but I think driving around for two hours and then taking a nap is perfectly reasonable if it makes you feel good and doesn't get in the way of anyone else or of your own responsibilities.

    The only way I've sometimes thought of you as childish is in some of your tendencies when interacting with other people. But in this aspect you've improved in the past few years.

  2. That sounds like a fun "no responsibilities day" to me. I try to have one a week because otherwise I get too caught up in being "Adult" and then feel like I spent the whole week in a constant cycle of "work" or "responsibles"

    And ultimately, I think the best part of "Adult life" is the divorce of responsibilities and giving up on the need to impress people with how "Adult" or socially acceptable I'm being.