Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Riot of Passage

There was a time for me when staring the 10 year high school reunion in the face was a mortifying thought. Our culture’s freakish obsession with youth aside, there’s room to blame my guidance counselors. Perhaps not par for the course as far as vocational counseling goes, my high school experience was nothing short of force-fed optimism and unrealistic notions of limitless opportunities on the other side of the diploma. You can be anything you want to be! While I certainly understand their desperation to compel youth against the grain of an assured tenure at the WIC office or an untimely end via Astrovan meth lab explosion, the baseless motivational speaking throughout the years has been too much to take.

Simply put, adults and younglings alike cannot hide how badly they hate growing up. After the fleeting excitement of our three-tiered rites of passage at 16, 18 and 21, cheaper car insurance at 25 is a veritable slap in the face. Women’s cosmetics are inundated with anti-aging agents that are somehow supposed to mysteriously and magically abate the reaper. Let’s not mention that the most fashionable form is botulism that’s injected into your face. But my favorite exercise in denial is the often employed euphemism: He ages gracefully, which is offensive on so many levels. You might as well say: He decomposes at a less alarming rate than most.

My disdain for the mourning-for-loss-of-youth camp notwithstanding, I haven’t exactly endorsed run of the mill adulthood. That is to say, at 27 years old, I’m still not a homeowner. *gasp* And it’s not on account of insurmountable debt, deficient credit, a lack of monetary means or any of the other well-worn paths to financial freedom. Just good ole indifference. And it hasn’t mattered to me that I’ve just been throwing my money away as a renter, as I’ve been frequently told. Equity, schmequity. I realized pretty soon after graduating college that there are just certain aspects of adulthood that will never appeal to me. Among them, complying with an HOA’s onerous regulations. That’s right. I find no interest in the color of brick, nor do I espouse the urgency of addressing maverick homebuilders. The way I see it, a 30 year financial raincloud over your head warrants some measure of autonomy.

As of late, however, my avid disinterest in home ownership has turned to nominal curiosity in other residency possibilities. I’ve never been one to drive around looking doe-eyed at the 5,000+ square foot behemoths in doctorville, but my time in the land of tenants has run its course. Though there’s something to be said for paying to have a good landlord take care of you, there’s absolutely no appeal to living within a whisper of a few dozen people. Similar to the college experience, I am constantly bombarded with mystery smells that generally fall into the categories of ethnic food or BM, which themselves are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish. Though I have a back yard, it’s barely big enough for my dog to be able to bend a biscuit. It also must have a sign that says “City Dump” because sidewalk litterers and my generous upstairs neighbors have seen fit to dispose of the following: half of a cell phone charger, an OSU-orange condom, a month’s worth of cigarette butts, a partially unwrapped tampon, an impromptu abortion rusty wire hanger, an iced honey bun wrapper, an empty pack of Newports and a rogue racquetball.

But the absolute worst aspect of apartment life has to be laundry management. Having been burned by the college variant, I tend to never trust a coin-op washer and dryer. There’s a learning curve that costs about $8.25 and whatever the price tag to replace 2 to 3 loads of your clothes. Just so you know, “Warm” means “Center of the earth magma hot” and “Dryer” means “Warming dampifier.” I guess the powers that be are maximizing their profit margins by not replacing the heating coils but every 25 years. So in light of such lackluster facilities, I often appeal to local friends and family for laundry support. One particular morning a couple weeks ago, I had a three-part horrifying realization. A) At 7:40, I was running the risk of being late to an 8:00 meeting at work. B) I had left a heaping basket o’ laundry in my backseat the night prior, and it needed to be transported to my apartment stat. C) An impromptu monsoon had made its way to landlocked Oklahoma that very morning. Cue the Benny Hill music and what commenced was a humorous exercise in futility. For me, rock bottom was chasing my dress socks down the gutter as the rain carried them into a busy intersection. It was at that moment that I considered it more honorable to begin planning who will wipe my senior ass than to parade my knickers in front of unsuspecting commuters.