At the tender age of 23, I realize that I still have a lot left to learn. I mean, I just mastered “how to tie a tie” about 6 months ago so I figure there may be some subtleties to life that I probably haven’t picked up yet. Still, I don’t wanna let too many people in on to that. It tends to send the wrong message, that I’m flaky or immature for some reason… Still, there are certain people that having them know it, just isn’t an option. Case in point? My parents.
Now, parents are always a tricky sort. For instance, was anybody raised in a household where “can you take out the garbage?” was an actual question? Lord knows I wasn’t. But after living “on my own” (dorms and then my own apartment, both financial pains significantly eased by my folks, hence the quotation marks) I’d at least like to project some sort of growth. And so every time I visit one of my parents, I do my best. Now, most people at this point would be asking, “How does one project a grown up feel?” Well, anonymous readers of the internet, I’m so glad you asked. If you’re me it’s a combination of things, usually revolving around the frequent incorporation of words that used to get my mouth washed out with soap. Nothing says “See ma? All grown up!” quite like an occasional “damn” or “sonuva bitch.” It’s not like I drop him left or right, it’s more about showing that I can do it without repercussions. Take that childhood self!
Another way of doing it? I’m not saying that my mom is old by any means, but when I’m the youngest, a 23 year old? Well, it’s only natural that as I age, so does she… But that’s not even the point. She’s always been an “early to bed, early to rise” kinda lady. The difference now? Who cares when she goes to bed?!? Whenever I visit, I hear her call from the other room, “Okay, we’re goin’ to bed, good night!” and I always holler back a pleasantry or two, like a “good night” or a “sweet dreams”, sometimes followed with a minor explanation of my planned activities, like “I’m gonna stay up a little longer and watch some TV” or something like that. Why is this important, some who can’t appreciate the art of subtlety may ask. Well, there was a point int time where I was raised in a strict household with TV limits and bed times and the whole nine yards. Hell, I think most of us were, but now that I’m out “on my own” bed time is a thing of the past. Nothing says “all grown up” like watching infomercials till an ungodly hour in the morning.
But just so we’re clear, not everything’s changed. For instance, I still can’t watch movies with my mom. Well, not all movies, but lemme explain. So we were settling in to watch Going the Distance, and for those who haven’t seen it, there are a couple sex scenes and some “explicit” dialogue. Nothing to worry the average movie-goer but as we watched, I could feel my body tense up. I turned red in the face. Thankfully the room was dark, but the embarrassment was palpable just the same. Even more embarrassing than watching a Drew Barrymore movie twice and enjoying it both times. What is it about sex scenes in movies, after all the other grown up shit I’ve been doing including drinking an “of age” adult beverage with dinner, that transports me back to being a five year old? I honestly don’t know any other way to describe it because it was that mortifying for me. For the rest of the movie, whenever something particularly “crude” or in my case, funny, came up, I would leave the room to grab a glass of water or some other mindless activity to get me out of the room and off the same couch as the woman who gave birth to me. Yeah, we’re talkin’ that level of awkward. But I guess that’s just the way it is. Just like I’ll probably never be fully grown up in her eyes, I don’t think I’ll ever outlive the shame of being a fully realized grown up.