Apparently I am going through a quarter life crisis (really I am overjoyed to hear my anticipated lifespan is one hundred and eight years old). Maybe that’s true, it would make sense… age 27 is probably about the time people start freaking out. What are they going to do with their lives? Are they going to stay in the hideous job forever or trudge, most decidedly, uphill towards their dreams again? Are they going to get married, have kids, settle into a day to day that resembles something like the American dream? Or are they going to forge their own path, taking the long way around instead of the most direct route? It’s about time to think about those things, really, after all in seven years they’re going to be 35. It’s probably about time to start assessing that age old question of the mythical ticking biological clock. And then, of course, there’s the very real possibility that they may be (*GASP*) alone! So on top of the job and the broken dreams, and the questions, there’s now a heaping pile of potential husband and child as a side dish. Cause really, seven years isn’t all that long to meet, fall in love, marry and pop out a shining copy of themselves. And if it’s not, then you’re probably going to end up dealing with alimony and custody issues later on. Just saying.
Wednesday at work, in our infinite attempts to make what we are doing not so bad, we started discussing (I swear I don’t know how it started and it definitely didn’t start from me) The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Je n’ai pas le mepris pour ce film, really, but at the same time I am a frequenter of the Cedar Lee Cult film series at the Cedar Lee Theatre located on the corners of Cedar and Lee Roads in beautiful Cleveland Heights, which just happen to be on the same night that the theatre shows their interactive monthly showing of Rocky Horror. I did that whole thing, it was in high school, and now I prefer to wear clothes, thanks. But, of course, as conversations tend to, in progressed into how my boss secretly likes Meatloaf. To which my coworker added that she liked that ‘Let me sleep on it song’, which is clearly really called ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’.
Okay. I can only assume that most people are familiar with ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ I remember listening to it for entire summers at camp. It’s on my mixtape from the summer of 1996 when I lived in Tent 7 and got my five year sweatshirt. Partway through the song my counselor, we’ll call her Lady T, answered the walkie talkie so it starts crackling and you can hear muffled voices in the background. It was the year I hung out with people older than me and was white council. So what a girl wearing a sash that stood for purity (and really truly deserving that color) saw to relate to in THAT song is completely beyond me. It’s possible I just thought it was a catchy tune.
However, in case you aren’t familiar the plot (and there definitely is one) is this: A boy and girl are parked in their car making out and getting, for all intents and purposes, hot and heavy. She’s hot, he’s probably hot (unless of course this is actually Meat Loaf, there’s no one around… he pretty much thinks he has a shot of getting lucky here. So they apparently sing for awhile about how they are alone and then a sports announcer gives us updates as they round the bases… things are looking intense, it’s looking like the boy might actually score…. And then her knees slam closed and she sings a few verses about how she’ll sleep with him but only if he tells her that he loves her. He hems and haws, not entirely sure, but she’s sitting there all anticipatey and finally he throws up his hands promises her eternity and they do it.
And that’s when the song gets genius. A cautionary tale a far cry from a million abstinence campaigns. She doesn’t get pregnant, neither of them get diseases, they are, however; miserable. They can’t stand each other. The phrase “Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you I don’t think that I can really survive” is uttered. I mean, it’s pretty much just completely awesome. I think I might have said it was going to be my decision making paradigm for the rest of time and that I would throw copies of it at teenagers emerging from limos on prom night. Whether that’s particularly true remains to be seen (I’m thinking not so much), but the sentiment is the same. And the sentiment is this:
Doing what you think you are supposed to do never makes anyone happy. There are people who are happy with ‘what you’re supposed to do’ meaning the kids, the career, the husband or wife, all that stuff, but they are happy with it because that’s what they want, probably what they have always wanted. I have not. Yes, sure there was a time when I planned my wedding (weddings, more accurately), stuck a pillowcase on my head, and designed wedding dresses while I was supposed to be paying attention to conferences at Model UN (apologies to Hathaway Brown and the University of Chicago for that one, really, they were excellent conferences but I just wanted to go to Chicago) but even then there was the cynical side poking it’s way into my consciousness. I did say weddings after all, eight planned in total. It really wasn’t that I wanted to break up with people, it was mostly because I thought it was more realistic. People change, right? How could the same person fit into constantly changing ideal? That was impossible!
Of course I didn’t take into account growing up, cause people do fall in love, maybe they get married, but before that they apparently turn into a complete psycho.
Take for instance this completely fictional being, we shall call her Rose. Now Rose is a pretty normal person, a bit dry humored perhaps, definitely cynical, thinks everyone’s lives are better than her own even if she knows deep down everyone has issues. The basic completely ridiculous human female who bears no resemblance whatsoever to myself. Now, Rose is obsessively single, perhaps she’s always told herself that love isn’t really real. Other people find it, maybe she’ll think she loves someone someday like she has before, she’ll be happy throughout her life but all that sappy love stuff? Not so much. She blissfully sails through her small life, happy with friends, laughing, having a good time. But what is this on the horizon? Not open sea it seems, oh look, another vessel has sailed up and thrown over a tether. Huh, it’s no so bad, in fact it’s really sort of nice having the company. Where did this other vessel come from? Who knows! Seemed to come out of the blue, but it’s all really good, and the two vessels sail off quite happily together, and quite quietly, for awhile.
So Rose looks out on the water and sees how completely smooth the water is. The water likes the same books and movies, the water hopes for a zombie apocalypse, the water thinks that ghosts and ESP are bullshit, and the water isn’t much into religion. Yet, somehow, the water is not boring, despite it’s smooth non-waves. Rose should be very content with this ride, it’s a very good ride. It’s a ride on which she smiles a little more, it’s a ride where she gets exposed to things she’d never thought of, it’s a ride that takes her to her local Borders wandering around for fifteen minutes before finally asking if they even have a science section, cause the computers say they do, and discovers it’s an unexplored four foot subsection covered in dust. Yet, somehow, quite inexplicably she keeps looking out over the water and wondering ‘WHERE THE HELL IS THE STORM!? I KNOW IT’S COMING, WHERE THE HELL IS IT?!’ She keeps thinking of the inevitable day when the other boat is going to un-tether itself and sail off as quickly in the opposite direction as it can possibly make it. Rose tries to relax, why destroy a perfectly good sailing day? But somehow she just can’t, she keeps itching. So she mentions it to the other boat, who has been a little more busy than before because there’s some repairs that need to do, and the other boat shakes his head and reassures her. So, Rose is fine… for about a week. And then there it is again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until finally one day Rose bursts into tears, says everything she’s feeling, because now that she knows what it’s like not to sail alone she doesn’t want to go back, now it would just seem lonely, and gets the response; ‘Tell it to your blog. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.’
I for one, of course not being Rose, think she’s a complete headcase, but I don’t know, she’s probably got a few good things going for her.
So people freak out, yes, that’s life I suppose. People feel poorly, that’s everyone not just me and not just you and not just anyone. There are quarter life crises, and mid-life crises, and one can only hope by three fourths you’ve got at least a little bit of your shit together, but I am willing to bet there’s stuff then too. So, yeah, there’s no perfectly smooth sailing, there’s probably no paradise by the dashboard light (though there may be some great sex), and there’s probably no god. But that’s okay, really. Because otherwise it’d be more than a little boring.