Damn, life is hard. What happened? When I was a boy I couldn’t wait to be an adult. All the grown-ups I knew drove cars, went to R-rated movies and had plenty of money to spend however they wanted. Then, somewhere along the line, I took the leap into adulthood myself, and it’s turned out to be the biggest mistake I ever made.
It was like being invited into a Hansel and Gretel candy house, only to find out the treats are made of Styrofoam. It was like a Happy Meal with no toy. It was like going out with the woman of your dreams and discovering she’s a dude.
I just wanted to live in a beautiful house, drive a nice car and be happy with all the millions I made. But God’s always got his hand on the rug, ready to yank it at the slightest sign of my contentment.
When I was on the outside, clamoring to get into this wretched adults-only club, nobody mentioned the unending series of crises poised to bite you in the butt. Life is relentless. As soon as you put out one fire, another flares up. Life becomes a Whac-A-Mole game, and there are too many moles to whack, leaving molehills to blossom into mountains.
My problems can all be sorted into two categories: migraines and tension headaches. Migraines include my finances, relationships and career. These are the ones that constantly nag me. I get fired. My spouse leaves. I don’t have six bucks for Starbucks.
Tension headaches, on the other hand, are those glitches that blindside me, disrupting my day or mood: the unexpected cold sore; the backed-up toilet; the teenager who has to be bailed out of the pokey. These mind-troubling hitches come in waves and usually cost me several days as I foam the runway.
I never worried about any of these things when I was a kid. Now look at me, the punk who couldn’t wait to grow up: I went from dodgeball to dodging bills.
I never really saw my parents deal with the crap I face. Okay, there were little things like a broken window or a garbage disposal problem, but these mini events were few and seemed to correct themselves. I’d go to bed, wake up and everything was back to normal. Now, when I wake up, reality is sitting at the foot of the bed saying, “Ready for more?” Then it laughs like a loon. Unlike me, it knows what’s coming. This morning’s present: cat puke on the carpet. Even kitty has turned on me.
Everybody deals with crises in his or her own way. I try to ignore them until they go away. People always tell me that’s not a good strategy. I ignore them until they go away.
My favorite form of problem-solving is to take a deep breath and hide under the covers. Mail? I throw it away. If it’s important, they’ll write back. The key is to keep pushing your problems back until one day they become one humongous, insurmountable ball of fire rolling toward you. Then you step aside, change your identity and move far, far away.
I don’t wish problems on other people, but it’s good to know they have them too. The fact that others wallow in misery brings sadistic comfort. Think of how bad you would feel if you were the only one with problems. I say, throw everyone into the pool; I don’t want to drown alone.
It’s also nice when someone tells you about their problems and they’re 10 times worse than your own. “My teenage daughter is pregnant” trumps “My poodle ran away.” Of course you toss in a few words of consolation, but if you’re the one with the poodle in that conversation, that grandfather-to-be just made your day. Ah, schadenfreude, what would I do without you?
I’m sure cavemen had difficulties, too. The fire went out. The kids drew on the wall. Life insurance was too expensive. Come on! Trials and tribulations have always been a part of life throughout time. Take Job from the Bible. Now, that fella had setbacks. Loses all his money. His livestock and children die. Body covered in boils. We’re talking pain and suffering. And, worst of all, his wife is a hater. Ol’ Job summed up the plight of the responsible adult perfectly: “I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest. Only trouble comes.”
No, the brochure about the freedoms of adulthood is tantamount to those scammy businesses where they claim that you can make $8,000 a week while sitting at your home computer. You shell out $62 for the stuff that tells you how to become the next millionaire and—booyah!—you’re $62 poorer.
Maybe kids are smarter these days. Many of them are in their 40s, living under their parents’ roof, which reminds me: My ceiling is leaking. Better call Mommy and Daddy and see if I can get a loan.
“Ham on a Roll”