They sit on street corner walls, smoking cigarettes no one can understand how they can afford except for the fact that they have no other expenses. The girls segregated from the guys, typically, except for occasional pokes or jabs, tween and teen attempts and conveying emotion, Lord knows the brain and mouth won’t work together properly in such pursuits at that age. They’re dressed in black and tight jeans, striped shirts like prisoners from some 1950’s comedy, unkempt hair and desperate to die. They’re longing to skip those teenage years. They’re fools, and as adults we sometimes dismiss their feelings as childish, phases that will come and go, but this is the time of their lives which will be more difficult than any other, more shaping than any to come. They’re not childish, they’re inexperienced in the containment of their own tragedy. Life is, in many ways, a constant tragedy, certainly that part of the first act where you need to deal with growing hairs and auto-lust and learning social interaction beyond how to knock a kickball out of the park. They are fools, though. Rare is the teenager who knows what he’s got. Sure, it’s rough dealing with authority, puberty and MTV. But on the other hand, you don’t have to pay any bills, if your parents make you get a job, it’s a damn easy one compared to the threat of the real world workplace where you are forced daily to realize that you’ll be stuck doing this until you’re too old to be useful anymore. Well, for many people that’s the outlook anyway. But stocking your grocer’s aisles every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for 6 hours, knowing you won’t be doing it for the rest of your life, that’s simplicity, that’s simply trading time for a paycheck which you can trade for beer money and a pack of Camels.
On the other end of the spectrum, they ride in convertibles that threaten to rip their hairpieces into the dust left behind as they scream down the highway, a woman too young and too eager to swallow up their money riding shotgun. They have all the money they need, more than they should want probably, and nothing to aim it at. No desire to help, to aid some poor family somewhere or lessen the tax burden on their neighbors by donating it to whatever municipal needs their hometown might need. Instead they’re trying to live out some missed youth, only missed because they were so busy amassing the wealth, working the hours, growing their portfolios. These people, seemingly holding onto youth, are in no better situation than the teenager who wishes he could skip from 12 to 20, again, desperate to die.
Living in this very day is the single most important obligation, perhaps the only obligation we’re born with. Whether you believe that Jesus Christ is waiting for you in heaven or that when you die you’re dust, there is only one fact that anyone can see here on this planet: we’re pretty amazing creatures. Opposable thumbs, memory, the capacity to love, space travel. Whatever we are, we’re the best this planet has come up with and we owe it to evolution, God or John Travolta to hit every day with the desire to break into exuberance.
Or at least, that’s my opinion.