Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Audience Participation: The Reckoning

As a child, I was rather known for my precocity. I always got along better with the grown-ups than with other children, and assumed that they viewed me as an equal. For years, nobody ever attempted to dissuade me from that belief. By the time I hit adolescence, though, I had become aware that trying to talk to adults as an adult wasn't working anymore. It was around that time that my mother took me out for a long evening drive, and tried to explain to me one of the great truths of adult life:

"No matter how far we try to scurry away from that kid inside of us, that child will always be close by in my soul," she said. "So, stop trying to be an adult or a child, and just be who you are."

Of course, her casual dismissal of my "adulthood" only served to alienate us throughout my teen years. Our estragement was a foregone conclusion. Ultimately, by the time I came of age, my departure had been so well planned for so long that leaving home resembled nothing so much as a manned space mission in the final moments before launch. Heading off to film school, I even brought along some Tang (ironically, of course).

I was heading out into the world, all my plans smoothly clicking along, when I hit an unexpected snag: my one stab at open thread delivered the resounding silence I expected. That's right... I blame it ALL on Mother. See how it feels when no one listens to your ideas?

Mississippi Wallace, for example, used to sit on his porch with a guitar with a couple of strings (or with a couple of strings missing, depending on how you want to look at it), and every day as the girls passed on their way home from school, he'd taunt them with the same question: "Is this thread going to wind up soup or stew?" Then he'd smile salaciously and leer at them in their starched white dresses as he sang:

I put in the carrots and potatoes
I put in the carrots and potatoes
I put in the carrots and potatoes
Who's got some meat and spice?

A brazen little hussy named Jacosta always responded by sticking her tongue out at him. Sure, it was childish, but even 18 year olds are still getting their brain's neurophysiology remodelled. And her being an only child -- like a first born, as I am -- had her imprinting exposures to relating being relating with adults. But learning how to talk to [like] adults is not maturity.

But some of it was on the part of the adults, reacting to visible if not verbal developments they perceived in her -- the social consequences of reaching puberty too early. The problem was no one wanted to go first.

(Let us never speak of this again. - S.N.)
4:53 PM ::
Amy :: permalink