I have a friend who wants to live to the age of one hundred, not because she fears death, on the contrary. She wishes to see her centenary so that she can utilise the balancing sixty years of her future to make up for the forty she feels she has wasted. I get that epiphany, that revelation, albeit in a slight different flavour. You see, she is self inflicted whereas my situation is in no way my own doing, or at least not in a way that my blinded and selfish personality will admit to in print.
You must “get that” too – the concept of, having completed a fourth decade that your life to this point has not been your own? Or at least a base realisation it has not panned out the way you would have wished, a desire to re-wind the movie, then remake and maybe recast with the clarity of twenty-twenty hindsight. I don’t know about your life, maybe you’re a lucky cunt, but my own has become a bit shit – a series of comedy sketches, wherein I clown around on fast-forward, trying to sate the emotional needs and demands of others, all the while neglecting the self. Problem is, my Comedy Channel runs jokes with the punchlines edited short, and replaced by adverts for Prosac or Tramadol.
During infancy people do random stuff on your behalf as you are not yet capable on a physical, mental or emotional footing; – yes, this is true for most of your life, but I find it at its most obvious during this stage of personal development. As you become taller you have a level of autonomy, but are limited by the boundaries imposed by your parents, or schooling, or laws of the land. At fourteen you can hang with your friends in the local park and drink alcopops stolen from the all-night 7-Eleven by your older brother. Yet society and law is more firm that this in decreeing it is too young an age to fuck or smoke a doobie. It doesn’t stop you, you do so anyway – a double-whammy of a middle-finger, stuck both up your girlfriend and up to society.
Early adulthood is your own, to an extent, but even this is a series of misguided misjudgements on your part – thus out of your control by the nature of your own inexperience and ineptitude. While it is no longer illegal to fuck, society still frowns upon you banging your best friend’s mum, no matter how much she begs for you to go down on her in the back of her husband’s Volvo. It doesn’t stop you, you do so anyway – and find she tastes of disappointment and broken dreams.
Then you commit your time to preparing the foundation for the later stage of life – working hard for ‘the man’ to earn a basic wage; or maybe be a middling wage and a crippling student debt should you choose to slog your guts out within the education system for a little longer. Then fireworks explode into the night marking another January 1st, and you realise your twenties are history, and you wonder where the fuck the years went. You make a resolution to go find them, fail and give up within a week.
By now you have disposable cash and own some unnecessary commodities, along the way developing a manageable Coke habit you can give up any time you want. Under instruction you hand the key to your chastity cage to a single person – and under no circumstances are you are permitted to have extra keys cut. That’s right, we can only fuck the same person for the rest of our life, and it must be in a heterosexual relationships or we will burn for all eternity – or longer in the case of indulging with a mixed group of naked, consenting adults in the same room. What ugly fuck came up with these rules?
Meanwhile Society is insisting you hurry to pro-create – which means the thought of responsibility ends your Coke habit overnight, and binds you to lifelong relationship with expensive Vodka served neat from the freezer – which is a much more acceptable vice, of course. So you rut and conceive small humans that your wife calls Rachel, or Phoebe, or Chandler, or some such popular-culture-copyist-shit. Then these fucking kids that have your eyes and your smile and your big cheeks, they look up at you from their low vantage point and demand stuff, like clothes and food and wisdom and encouragement to become good human beings. While you look down trying to hide the sorrow in your face, a raging guilt that you are setting them off on this same, cyclical journey you yourself are struggling to master after forty years of practice. Hey, Joey, pass me that rolled up banknote; fuck you Ross, I’m first – well hello Monica, come sit on my lap.
Then you are forty years old, and you are fucking done, my friend. You have pro-created, kept the world over-stocked with bodies, and your time is up – biological purpose complete, your next stage is biodegradable. Now you can start to enjoy yourself and do things you want to do, right? Society decrees you are not allowed. You still need to work to earn money to survive in this artificial economy – you want a house and a car and holidays abroad, right? Still need to bring up your kids who already disrespect you and treat yourself like you are an embarrassment to them – which you are. If, by now, you are beginning to think that society has it in for you, then you are late to this party, and deserve the dregs of the tropical punch and canapés.
So, do I also want to live to one hundred? Let’s just say that right now life is, just like a manageable Coke habit, something I could give up any time I want.