“Stop eating Pringles so noisily. You’re making me want one.” Anon.
So I was lying on the sofa this morning, eating Pringles, and wondering what to do with my life, a set menu of activities with which I am all too familiar. In between wondering (and eating Pringles*) I was gazing up through my fog of crunch breath and looking at my hand (palm and the front bit, in turn***) and suddenly concluded my search for a project to fulfill my youthful, creative genius. I’ve been looking for such a thing most of my adult life, largely because I am so combustively dysfunctional that such a level of shittery (intermittent, nihilistic, misanthropic, bad in bed and boring at parties) can’t possibly exist without a concomitant blowhard brilliance. It just can’t. I can’t allow for it. Acknowledging that my sad, unsuccessful life (permanently unemployed, teasingly average looking, bit fat and mostly friendless) is isolated by mediocrity would tumble me into a rickshaw depression.***** I want to be Byron-esque, not botched.
My creative genius would be fulfilled as thus…I would take a photograph of my hand every day until the day I died, to witness its slow alteration from streamlined and spongy (OK I don’t have spongy hands, I just fucking don’t know how to describe hands, k?) to nervously lined and pleasingly crisp. I had done it. I had invented aging. Or documenting aging. Or documenting the ageing of hands. Or documenting the aging of my hands. Its all the same thing, in the end.
I had invented the concept of the photographic documentation of the aging of my hands. I was a creative genius after all. ******
I have been thinking about age a lot recently, ever since I thimbled towards thirty, thus alleviating my status as a Young Person, and inching closer to the status of an Old Person. I’m on the precipice. And I’ve been trying to work out what that means (if anything.)
When I was younger I was quite precocious, in the sense that I was persistently, confidently definite. My mother-figure said that when I was four, I trundled into the living room one day, hands on hips, head held high and declared that I had confidently definitely become a follower of Our Lord Jesus Christ.******* Later I became confidently definitely sure that the established church was a patriarchal wealth hoarder and that the animated religious stories they used to put on television had indoctrinated me into my bible bothering, and were thus a duplicitous menace to society. Now that I see that children’s television exists purely for advertising wacky plastic crap at febrile young minds….I think perhaps the bible bothering, if nothing else, provided me with an early antidote to pure materialism. Its what I tell people when they ask me why I don’t have a smart phone…and, in any case, what institution isn’t a patriarchal wealth hoarder?
But you see the evolution? From definite to definite to maybe to possibly who in ham fist knows? Who the fuckedy fuck cakes even cares? My youth now seems muchly like an energetic run up to a shoulder shrugging plateau. I have been so so right so so many times, only to find out I was wrong enough times, to no longer take seriously even the smallest crumb of my now jaded judgement. You know why progressives (who believe in everything passionately) are said to become liberals (who belief in nothing dispassionately) in their mid years? Because progressives are basically so enamoured by their own intellectual and political inventiveness that they can’t possibly comprehend why anyone else wouldn’t engage in their positivism. And that kind of violent intellectual masturbation takes youthful verve. But as one hits those middle years, one confronts the fact that nothing you’ve ever believed about life was, straightforwardly true and self doubt and uncertainty makes bush space for self interest. Its head down and get on with the business of self serving time, because if you don’t understand the world enough to think about changing it, there is little point in you being unhappy.
But I realize immediately, that is a somewhat offensive theory, based on an initial false premise, that I have curated because I am having a bit of a Bad Day. Largely because I have come to the conclusion that the take-photos-of-my-aging-hands project probably doesn’t have legs, and I am still stuck on the bus with my mediocrity. I lashed out. I’m sorry.
Its also largely because I am envious of twenty years olds. Sometimes in the sense that I fruitlessly admire them, and sometimes in that I fornicate with the bitter knowledge of their simple existence. I think only the latter is justifiable. Because I am no longer it, and because therefore I will no longer be this either and therefore nothing means anything and therefore. What’s the bloody point?
But its not just that. Its something to do with being on the precipice, and soldiering a confrontation with myself as changing thing. That fact that I, now, have literally no control over me, tomorrow. And I find that bothersome. And because I don’t know tomorrow, I only know yesterday (and can’t be fully sure of today) yesterday (and thus youth) is were I shall (probably unfairly) cast my chagrin.
Starter for ten, yoofs are super earnestly correct about everything… so much so that even when they are not correct, rather than confront their incorrectness, they just mold speech so that they become correct. In order to avoid burping up whatever curdles of modesty they may or may not have. A bit like journalists. Or Owen Jones. Who is a journalist. And the contemporary British yoofs cult leader. They manufacture reality linguistically to suit culturally having-a-moment identities….heterosexual-but-likes-the-idea-of-a-bit-of-now-and-again-gay-if-only-imaginatively-and-not-actually-and-in-any-case-not-enough-to-go-full-half-bi-so-basically-heterosexual…. becomes Queer. Music-that-isn’t-verse-chorus-verse-and-isn’t-very-good-and-says-nothing-in-particular-and-is-willfully-banal becomes Hipster Punk. Eats-meat-but-only-only-thursdays-or-hangover-days-or-rainy-days becomes a Ontological Vegetarian. Uncomfortable-with-placing-sexuality-within-an-ethical-framework-because-they-think-that-makes-them-crusty-but-associates-the-phrase-free-love-with-yoofs-of-yester-yore become Sex Positivism. As though there was any such a simple thing as Sex Negativism. Even Evangelicals, I reckon, are acclimatized to the occasional bit of after dinner nipple sucking.
On that note, they also seem to be labouring under the misguided belief that people older than them are shockable innocents, who would blister should they discover the dirty folds of their sexual exploits. Oh yes. Did you not know that yoofs invented rimming and spanking and sex toys and gender bending and orgiastic fellatio feasts and cucumber sandwich parties? ******** Oh lemme tell you youngs and beautifuls, oldies and crusties have done it all before and have hitherto (mostly) stopped doing it because they worked out (as you shall) that none of that shit is half as fun as is written on the box. Mostly, such sexual Olympics are embarrassingly demonstrative of what happens when the universe gives sweaty, primordial beings something of an enculturable intellect and a low concentration bandwidth. And as you refine into maturation, you’ll realize that simply Being Drunk and rubbing yourself against a cushion whilst thinking about Idris Elba or Penelope Cruz or, I dunno, Josh Groban, is probably enough. But that wouldn’t make for such a fun anecdote at a Have You Ever..? party.
But the ‘been there done that brigade don’t disabuse you of your erroneous sense of sexual sophistication because correcting ignorant smugness is Kinda Mean. And bound to foster embarrassment.
And, you know. They’ve been there.
But all that stuff is curiously forgivable, if for no other reason than even at my relatively new-to-not-being-young age of 30, I am personally aware that the raw hope that yoofs carry with them, that they are peculiarly unique and fundamental and interesting and informed peoples, is going to be shattered out of their brain hands like one of Manuel’s silver trays. And its going to smart. They are going to have to swallow a lot of sick when it finally occurs to them that they are not especially attractive, intrepid voyagers of new horizons with an abundance of freshly coined intellectual textures. They are, put simply, harbingers of the buzzword, soon to collapse into conversational sameness. Just like the rest of us did.
Its possible that postmodernity – with its tendency towards persistent for the sake of it flip switching, gives us larger territory. My favourite sitcom Peep Show, lets the discovering how Not Special we invariably become, no matter how hard we try to cultivate romance about ourselves, drag out until 40. And so, on that merit, I’m still in the ball park of the self satisfaction that comes with assumed knowledge apex and, ahem, individuality. But to be honest with you – and here is an admission – assuming you know everything and that you’re pretty interesting, is set of affectations that we all take with us to our soily, worm pocked graves. Only as you age you possibly stop being so interested in making sure everyone knows what you know and or is aware of your supreme specificity. Once you had enough mind changes and unsatisfying box ticky sexual encounters and break ups and break downs…your creative genius and your omnipotence stops being your Culture your Identity your own Personal Brand and starts to become your Dirty Little Secret. One that you occasionally indulge in, just to get you through a long, overcrowded, grey, smelly train journey. You are being romanced by Ellen DeGeneres on a white sandy beach in Mauritius , who has fallen for you due to your well matched spunky, cerebral charm and her predilection for Nobel prize winners. Whatever the fuck you do, don’t open your eyes. Don’t look up.
Yes the smugness of my youth has dripped into, what I hope, its final manifestation: I am never going to be a rock star or actress or genre defining novelist, or world changing activist, or breathe taking beauty, or highly sexed libertine or framework creating intellectual or party centred raconteur. But I am still half considering taking photographs of my aging hands.
*I am saying Pringles so much in case they** google Pringles and find me and send me Pringles vouchers. I like addictive savoury snacks.
*** What is the front bit called? Douglas Adams will know. ****
**** Googled it. Its dorsal or dorsum or something. Of pertaining to the back of one’s hand. Funny. I would have thought the palm be the back as its often got its back to me, hence back. I’m either literal or tendentiously confused.
***** WTF is a rickshaw depression? You’re going to google it and find out its NOTHING. Ha. Geddit? Actually you’ll mostly get people talking about being depressed whilst in a rickshaw (how is this even possible?) or economic depressions in areas were there seem to be rickshaws.
****** This didn’t set out to be a mock of the modern ersatz arts, but its turning out that way.
*******I stopped following Jesus Christ after a while when I realized he wasn’t going anywhere in particular. And stalking people is a bit rude.
******** Double ended dildos. Copy-write Rae Story.