If I have learned one thing from my grandmother, mother, aunts, first cousins, second cousins, and second cousins once-removed, it is how to be a hostess. In an ironic way, I find the moist, gum-stained streets of New York City comforting and the use of plastic ware at a family dinner nauseating. I have been programmed by tradition and, of course, my Jewish heritage to make sure everything is nice, crafty, and colorful. (You can read more about my OCDilemmas on @JewBoyProblem’s blog, Found at Bubbe’s.)
Carrying this value true to form, my mom threw my dad a 50th birthday party last night. It was, more or less, a Bar Mitzvah for adults. Honestly, I used to think 50 was old. I don’t really think so any more. Now it seems kinda cool. Like you’re in that George Clooney phase (or so you hope) where your hair is perfectly salt-and-pepper and your life could be a scene taken from my favorite Meryl Streep movie, It’s Complicated. Even though this sort of So. Cal lifestyle will only be blessed upon a bare 1% of us (cue the “we are the 99%!!!!!!”) it doesn’t seem that bad at all.
Now’s the time where I turn shit around and use a smooth transition to make it all about me. Hence, watching my dad bask in his age made me think about my own. I am on the horizon of adulthood, yet I have no idea of the value of where I stand in life.
We are told that we can vote when we’re 18, buy a pack of cigarettes when we’re 19, and legally drink when we’re 21. So, politicians, when will I become a real big girl? When will I grow up? I can’t decide if I’ll feel it upon the burdening loss of an unlucky lottery ticket I used all of my babysitting money to buy or when I receive my first jury duty summons.
Today, adulthood is broadened into so many different categories–going to jail, voting, drinking, smoking, buying cars, renting cars, renting hotel rooms, having my own phone bill. We are even defined by seeing a rated-R movie. It is almost as if they want me counting down until the next big milestone where I can look back and say, “Hey! Remember the good old days when I wasn’t allowed into the teen club on that cruise ship?!” Cough, cough, fuck you, Royal Caribbean.
I don’t know if society is trying to boost my ego by rewarding me with age, or making it harder and harder for me to feel like I’ve really grown up. Who the hell knows? When my dad gets his first letter from AARP, I’ll ask. Then I’ll steal his rewards card to get discounts at Dunkin’ Donuts. I guess that counts for the positive side of something.