I recently had my 26th birthday and I finally realised: my father doesn’t feel any older than I do. There is no great monster called old age that suddenly hits you one day. Maybe I’m alone in this but I don’t think so. I was always worried about cramming in as much as possible to my life because I assumed that there were certain things that I would, one day, be “too old” to attempt.

Everything I see on television tells me to grow up (apart from “Men Behaving Badly”. Go Lads!) and accept responsibilities I don’t want. I have been told that I am immature for not accepting these. I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t have car payments (my car is worth what many people give as a payment). I don’t have a wife. No kids. Does this make me immature?
I think no. I used to rebel against the idea of maturity because of what I was told it represented: all of the above. Things I did not want. I like a simple life. But maturity is not about the responsibilities that you choose. Maturity is about how you handle the responsibilities life throws your way.

I learned this very recently through a now ex-friend. He is the same age as I am and has already been through one marriage. Besides that marriage he has been engaged once (maybe twice very soon) and came within a hair’s breadth of marrying his first girlfriend too. He has been through the building a home and the car-payment thing too.
But when life bowls him a bouncer he runs. He has re-settled his life three times already at the age of twenty-six. What is disturbing is it’s not all his fault. Now I am usually the last to excuse people who shrug off their responsibilities “The devil made me do it” style.

I am constantly told by people that they object to sex and violence on TV and I’m not going to go into that here but what I object to is American-style advertising and TV programming. Everything in Hollywoodland is wonderful. Everyone has a nice house, sports car, designer clothes, beautiful girl or boyfriends and they always win through.
There are two great advertising coups, both consolidated in the money-mad nineteen eighties. The first is when the convinced men that if they didn’t have the right car, the right clothes, the right deodorant, hair style, watch, sun glasses, toothpick (alright, not toothpick) and use the right toothpaste women would not sleep with us. The second is when they convinced women that if we didn’t have the right car, the right clothes, glasses, watch, smell right, groom right (but still no toothpick) we weren’t worth sleeping with.

And boy have we fallen for that one. Everyone would like to fall in love. The thought that the other person might not feel the same way because we don’t have these things scares us. We might miss our one chance for true happiness. So many people choose a career they hate for the money.

And people wonder why men have mid-life crises.

And no-one ever teaches us to lose. Let me make this clear. I’m not being a soppy socialist. I believe in competition and capitalism and so-on. I believe winning is good and losing is bad. It’s how the world and nature works. I remember in the UK in the late 80’s some loony lefties wanted competitive sports removed from schools because it made some kids feel inferior. They wanted “games” as it’s often called to be co-operative. I think it’s the will to win that makes us co-operate in a team, but I’m losing the core subject here.

Winning is easy. Picking yourself up from losing is hard. The perfect-teeth on the American shows always win through. No-one teaches us to deal with a loss, get up and fight on. The people on The Dull and the Dutiful, Heavily Billed 90210 and Lays of our Wives are going to be fine.

We’ve got a lot to learn about the values we need to instill in the next generation.

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One Response to “98.12.08 The Con”


  1. Very interesting site… I wish I could build one like yours!nancy


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