Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Which I Continue to Generate Much Buzz For Myself and My Career

Summer is not traditionally my most dominating time of the year. I am inevitably afflicted by impressions and thoughts somewhat less than completely joyous and positive at some juncture during this easy season, and whatever more desirable presentation I have been working so hard (or so assiduously, if you can endure this word) to cultivate is swept quite away. I have not myself been on a school schedule for many years, but the damp, the humidity, the bugs, the flowers, the grass that grows too fast, the roar of motorcycles, call up the old feeling of school being out, and my being temporarily lost as a result; of many long hours passed sitting in my room or wandering over the empty, wiltingly hot streets and dusty ballfields of my old town. This is because I experience life as a stream of events in which everything that occurs, especially if it is in some way disappointing, is directly correlated with everything else that has previously occurred, even if these events ought properly to have nothing to do with the present. I would be much better off if I could experience life as a series of actions, each one unrelated to the one before it and a fresh opportunity to make a positive mark. I never am able to do so, however.

Frequently I attempt to compensate for being depressed by thinking cruel thoughts about other people from whom I would be especially solicitous to distance myself. There was a story in the New York Times last week about the serious medical problems morbidly obese women, some up to 500-600 pounds, face during pregnancy. The story was uninteresting because it neglected too fastidiously to explore the real story that suggested itself, indeed almost burst with the desire to scream itself out, which was of course to identify who is going around impregnating 600 pound women, and what goes on in the minds of people who do so--perhaps they see a 600 pound woman as the equivalent of having 4 or 5 normal sized girls--who knows? This was not an instance that called for either subtlety or restraint. This was a freak show posing as a medical issue. Now I know as well as anyone that the dating scene out there can be brutal for the weak and inferior, and that loneliness and frustration for months or even years on end grow unbearable in a very short time. Indeed I am sympathetic, far too much so indeed, I know, to almost all variety of lovers. But come on.

Then I have some idea of talking about the younger generation--not my children, but the immediate younger generation, the people who are in their twenties now. I mostly only know about them, or at least the educated, or perhaps it is better to say highly self-aware part of them, through the Internet, since almost no one of this type in this age group lives where I do. I do see a bit of this crowd in Brattleboro, which for some reason has managed to attract a decent-sized coterie of young people who have had some kind of intense relation with the idea of college even if only in rejecting it, enjoy free love, super left-wing politics, stores where everything is used, and hanging out in bars and cafes where the customers, to paraphrase what was said of Bernini, provide the photographs, paint the pictures, write the poetry, grow the food, and play the music. My beautiful wife Sabrina claims to find these people annoying, and I can't say that they are exactly my ideal either--they aren't terribly witty, they are a little overly health-conscious, et al, for my taste--but at this point I am so desperate to hang out with anybody who is remotely interested in anything I am interested in, that I have come to rather look forward to seeing them about, dropping into their haunts for a couple of minutes if I have the chance, and eavesdropping on their conversations.

But my purpose is not really to talk about this particular scene. I was watching the internet "TV series" We Need Girlfriends, which chronicles the romantic shortcomings and modest triumphs of a trio of nice, introspective Jewish boys and recent graduates in New York in a series of 11 short (6-14 minute) episodes over the last couple of days. The show was an internet hit of sorts and was even picked up by CBS to develop a pilot (I don't see the realist ethos that makes the Internet show mildly interesting transferring to a network production though). I admit there were some things in it that amused me. I like the expression "You scammed my squirrel" quite a lot, and wish I had invented it myself--actually I think I did invent it myself, at least I went through a period where I employed the word squirrel when thinking of certain girls I liked. The naturalistic filming on location on the streets of Astoria, Queens (home by the way of the only Czech restaurant and beerhall I have been able to find on the East Coast--alas the beer is still "Import" and has the fizzy, cold-pasteurized American taste) was a welcome departure from the usual rather sterile cinematic depictions of New York. Several of the squirrels were pretty cute, too cute for me, but then far too cute for the geeky characters in the show as well. Their general inferiority as men, when the writers chose to address it, was rather convincingly and even painfully portrayed (though I thought the show should properly have ended with them all utterly alone and realizing in horror how inferior they were and contemplating suicide, in reality most schmucks really do find some decent girl to take them on if that's all they want; still I wish the cutie-pie blonde whose pathetic boyfriend suggested he didn't deserve her and that she ought to find someone better had taken him up on the offer). Still, I don't want to give the impression that it was actually good. I was interested mostly in seeing how the kids that age live now, what their world is like. I don't think the kinds of guys in this show are going to like being 38 very much, because most of them almost certainly won't have done anything that amounts to much in their mind, or anyone else's, and by the time you're 38 that's all anyone cares about, and by extension it becomes all that you care about. But a few other quick observations:

1. Computers, cell phones, etc. These have obviously changed life as a twentysomething a lot--I didn't discover the Internet until I was already married and far away from any kind of youth culture, and I still don't have or see any necessity for a cell phone. My car broke down about a month ago between two interstate exits fairly late at night and I simply did what I would have done in 1990. I walked 2 and a half miles back to a gas station that had a phone booth and called a tow truck, which walk I should add was very restorative to my spirits. Granted, it could have been winter, but I have walked long distances in temperatures as low as 10 degrees when I lived in Maine and felt quite robust at the end of it. But as regards the present generation I cannot see myself getting in on all the cellphone fun the kids have, with their messaging and calling each other incessantly. I have gotten maybe 10--maybe 20--social phone calls in my entire life, and this is spread out over a 25 year period. The level of connectedness is something I can't really imagine. Also I had imagined that the Internet would have been a great aid in my attempt to find some girl to go out with me when I was a teenager and no one at my high school was giving any signs of being interested, but apparently the opposite effect has happened--the girls have had exposure to more cool guys now than they had before and are even less willing to go out with normal people than they were before.

I am going to end this post here. There were other points, but they aren't really worth the time it takes to go into them. Plus there is a lightning storm outside my window and my computer is about to get blown up.

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