I used to look at people who became their goofiest when they played with children with an embarrassed side-glance. I’d feel the need to feel uncomfortable for them, that they were doing such silly things in front of a bunch of adults.
Like, “You realize we can see you too, right?”
But in reality, it’s not like I thought any less of them. I understood that they were just doing things like making silly faces and pretending to trip on imaginary banana peels to entertain the kids. It didn’t make them any less of an adult in my eyes, so I don’t really know why I found it so embarrassing to watch them do their thing.
I think maybe I was insecure in my own adulthood at the time and so I felt like I had to overcompensate by not acting silly at any time, even if it was just for kids; in order to prove the sternness of my adult status. Now, I’ve embraced the truth that all adults are just really big kids anyway, so what’s the use in stifling your inner child? It’s just that now we’re big kids who pay taxes, and feel obligated to pretend we know what we’re doing. But the huge secret is, we still don’t know what we’re doing. Each stage of life brings new challenges that make us feel as awkward as a kindergartner, fumbling to scratch led marks between the lines we’re told to adhere to.
I find myself doing all sorts of crazy stuff these days to make my students laugh or keep them engaged. I’m not embarrassed in the least. Not even in front of other adults.
I don’t understand why we keep this lack of know-how a secret for children to find out when they’re adults. It’s not like they’d look down on us or feel less safe in our hands. I find they usually appreciate the honesty, to whatever extent you give it to them. Why don’t we do them a favor and save them some insecurity & uncertainty later by fessing up?
I feel like a shadow of this truth is shown when we do things like make silly faces at small children, but I think the adolescents could use our help too.
Tell a young adult “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m still breathing so I guess I’m doing something right,” today.
I stand here for five minutes straight, with my face wet from rinsing, trying to convince myself that I think I’m beautiful. Just the way I am. Right now. In this moment. Water soaked mustache and all.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did that throw you off? I’m a girl, so I’m not supposed to have a mustache, right?
I do. And so do most women though we might try to hide it. Don’t get me wrong. My stache isn’t long enough to cuaf into curly points or anything, but it’s there. A little dark layer of peach fuzz who especially likes to come out to play when my face is wet. It’s not too noticeable otherwise (unless you’re mere inches from my face), but when it is, it IS, if ya’ know what I mean. It kinda slaps you in the face and demands to be looked at. Almost as if someone’s pressed zoom on a camera and the focus just happened to land smack dab in the middle of my upper lip.
Quite frankly, it’s distracting. Or at least I think so. I imagine someone leaning in to kiss me and then recoiling in sudden disgust. AWKWARD.
“Naw, naw. You’re fine,” I tell myself. “This is your natural face. It’s just the media that’s got you convinced you need to change. If a guy can’t handle you and all your ‘ugly’ he can’t handle you anyway.”
But then I stand there making kissy faces for another five minutes, trying to get the positive concept of myself that’s in my heart become true in my brain. I still haven’t succeeded. Somewhere along the line, us women got convinced that any and all hair is the bane of our existence and now we’re plagued with the constant removal of it.
Remove some hair here, cut a patch there, rip off all those babies over there. Never mind the unnecessary pain it causes you!
It’s pretty ridiculous.
I made the societal compromise of removing my leg and armpit hair a long time ago because even as a little girl who was just developing into a woman, I was told which changes in my body were acceptable and which were not. At the ripe old age of thirteen I mowed down those leg hairs with zeal for the sheer convenience of not being pointed and laughed at. Even though I couldn’t for the life of me see the need, I swallowed the idea that my body was unacceptable as it was like Nair flavored Tic Tacs.
“So I look ugly and gross like this,” I thought. “That’s okay. I can change it at least.” So I did. And I continue to every couple days.
But up to this point, I’ve been able to stand by one little shred of self respect for my natural body by leaving my shadow of a mustache alone. A declaration of “this is where I draw the line.”
So why is it that just because I’m faced with the prospect of another human being coming close to my face, the self esteem brownie points just shiver off of me with ease? Is my resolve really that shallow? I mean, sheesh! Isn’t my body mine? Why should I have to cower in fear as someone judges my body? Almost as if it’s some offering I have to beg to be accepted.
“Oh, please, master! Tell me you’re not repulsed by the piece of humanity that is my body hair!”
I mean, really?
I realize body hair, especially facial hair, is sort of seen as the mark of a developing male, but where and when in the medical textbooks did we erase the part where female hair production increases during puberty as well?
Female facial hair. It’s a thing, men.
Why do you insist on asking us to play this little charade where we pretend we’re naturally hairless, and “oh, I just woke up this way”?
We’re human. Grow up.
When the facade of what you think a woman should look like begins to affect us so badly that most of us women feel like we’re basically forced to spend countless hours (not to mention dollar bills) on hair removal, I think there’s a problem.
Why should I have to pretend I’m some kind of wig wearing naked mole rat with eyebrows that just happened to be on fleek?
I’m not a naked mole rat, guys. I’m a female human.
And guess what? I’m also beautiful just the way I am and I’m going to keep telling myself that until all the brainwashing fades away and it sinks in.
As I confessed in a previous post, I am quite a fan of cartoons. Anime and otherwise. I find that they hold a certain charm that programs generally more aimed at an adult audience don’t have.
There are two things that I especially enjoy about cartoons:
They are not afraid to be obscenely ridiculous.
2. They are not so preoccupied with aspirations of meaning that they miss the whole point.
The ambition of greatness often gets in the way of actually obtaining greatness. If one sits down with the intent of creating some great and masterful work, it is inevitable that the aspiration holder will never reach that end.
I find it is always the case with me. I am only one person and can therefore only speak for one of the billions of people on this planet. But it has proven infallible that if I ever set out with the goal of creating something that will stand the test of time and resound throughout the ages, I always, and I mean always, end up with a useless, ungrounded, piece of less than esoteric garbage.
It’s my theory that this is the case with many forms of television (and all forms of entertainment for that matter).
A person sets out with the Herculean task of creating something that will suit the pallet of the masses and ends up forgetting what they set out to do in first place.
That’s just it.
Many artists set out with no other goal than to conform, which is a recipe for disaster in itself…Either this actually leads them to disaster or…to rampant success simply by virtue of suiting the mutual meaningless goal of the majority.
But that’s an entirely different blog post.
In any case,
I think that cartoons (specifically when speaking of the television medium) have an advantage over the rest, because from the outset they are not expected to produce any form of revelational wisdom. When one thinks cartoons, they usually think children. And when one thinks children, they usually think of the ignorant bliss of nonsense which permeates most forms of child play.
I think that the mistake we make there is that we underestimate the purposeful potential of a child’s mind and inflate our own just because it’s been around longer.
I was talking to a friend’s children this afternoon (ages 8 and 14), and I was amused at the fact that it felt like the most purpose driven conversation I’ve had all day. Granted, I haven’t actually spoken to many people today. After all, I’m the type of person who sits happily locked in their room, typing away at a keyboard for long periods of time. But still, the fifteen minute conversation I had with those children seemed like the most refreshingly honest conversation I’ve had for a long time.
What was the conversation about? you may ask.
Well, cartoons, of course.
The conversation started off direct and to the point with the question of “What’s your favorite cartoon?”
No small talk necessary. No setting of the stage. No veiled meanings. No aspirations to the politeness of indirectness.
The conversation was so unpretentious and obvious.
It just was.
It sat in the air and reveled in the sheer purity of its existence.
I feel like with a lot of adult conversations or the lofty dreams of television shows, there’s this constant question of whether or not what is happening is actually happening. And in addition to that, is it happening well.
“Am I succeeding at this conversation?” the conversational partner seems to ask at the end of each measured sentence.
“Am I impressing you with my wittiness and astonishing modern relevance?” the television show asks.
With cartoons, because the expectation is lower by default, the people creating them seem to have more freedom of expression. I think that’s why things like anime and Adult Swim have managed such a booming following. People are tired of failed attempts at wit and meaning and have slumped into the staticy arms of the cartoon industry.
Having abandoned the primary aspiration of societal significance, content creators have managed to attain the very thing they have dodged by focusing on the vapidness of simply creating what they feel like. The amused masses coming pouring in as a side of effect.
Some of the most consequential and successful people seem to have the same general answer to that thirsty, desperate question:
“How did you do it?’
“Well…I just did what I love most in the world and believed in the value of that love enough to dedicate myself wholly to it. The idea that others might love that I love it never really occurred to me. But, hey, what do you know? Apparently they do, and that appreciation has assisted me in continuing to do what I love. So I thank them for that.”
Have you ever noticed how celebrities, whether they be international pop sensations or adored small town graphic novel artists, always go out of their way to thank the fan and how it’s all thanks to little ol’ you?
Do you really think they had you in mind when first creating their work?
Do you think that your amusement was at the pinnacle of their concern when they produced whatever service they were producing?
No, I think you are all much smarter than that, but sometimes just choose not to be.
You know that you are not truly the center of their universe.
They are simply acknowledging the fact that you are acknowledging them in the field of their choice. They are simply appreciating that your appreciation allows them to recklessly do what they are best at.
I wonder what kind of place the world would be if we all produced with such creative abandon instead of producing with the masses in mind.
So apparently there’s this particular view in the world that once you become an adult, there are certain things you just can’t do anymore. It’s like once you hit this indeterminate age threshold, the world tells you,
“Now, now. Remember what we discussed when you were a kid? Being an adult is boring, and you my friend, I am sad to say, have become one.”
Who decided that once you become an adult you’re prohibited from certain actions? Because I don’t remember signing that contract, so I refuse to submit to it. Last summer I was taking a tour of a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory with my family and at some point we were outside enjoying the view. My siblings and I spotted this really pretty tree whose leaves were the size of your hand and spotted yellow and green. “Let’s go take a picture by it!” I urged them (I’m kind of a photography geek. Not a talented one, but I still like taking lots of pictures nonetheless. ;p). The tree was so pretty and placed right near the edge of ridge with this old fashioned wooden rail around it. I knew it was a premium spot, so I was excited to try my best to make the pictures turn out great. I was so excited that I decided to sprint the hundred yards or so to it. When my siblings caught up to me my older brother gave me a skeptical look and remarked,
“You’re such a kid…” as he shook his head.
“What do you mean?” I asked, genuinely confused.
“You didn’t have to run. You could have just walked like the rest of us. I don’t know…You’re just so childish sometimes…” he said, (or at least something roughly along those lines).
“Who says adults can’t run?” I half chuckled, half eyebrow-raised.
And then he kinda just shrugged it off.
I don’t know. Is it just me or do other people think these kind of arbitrary rules for adults are pretty silly? I mean, I get that if I were at work in an office and decided to suddenly sprint through the hall to the break room to get some coffee that it would be an inappropriate setting to do so in. But if I’m on vacation, in the open air, and happen to be excited about something, what’s wrong if I decide to sprint from point A to point B? What’s so ridiculously “childish” about using running as an expression of joy? It uses the pent up energy I have from lounging around the hotel all day, it gets me to where I want to be faster, and it happens to feel great having the wind whoosh through my hair. Pardon, but I don’t see the problem.
Okay, so forget the childish and/or immature view of adults doing some actions. I find that doing things people conventionally think of as something only a kid does makes most people unreasonably uncomfortable.
How many of you have been in a supermarket when you were a kid and ridden a shopping cart through the aisles?
You know what I’m talking about.
Your mom’s all the way on the other side of the aisle. There aren’t that many items in the cart yet. You know she’ll probably scold you for doing it…But you Just. Can’t. Fight the urge… So you place your hands firmly on the handlebars, rev up your lip powered engine and let a rip down your cereal box raceway!
We’ve all done it.
And if you haven’t, I’m deeply sorry for your loss, for you have missed out on an important part of childhood. Let’s mourn for all the people who’ve missed out on this experience…
Okay, moment of silence over.
So we’ve all done it. Or at least heard about it. You can’t tell me that as an adult you’ve never suddenly been browsing the boring bean section and suddenly felt the inclination to feel that way again. But you stop yourself. It’s inappropriate you tell yourself. It’s uncalled for…
Well, guess what? I still do it.
Now admittedly, I make sure there are aren’t any old ladies or small children in the way so I can avoid The Great Shopping Cart Crash of 1999. But still. I still do it every now and then when I get the inkling. And when I do, people catch me. And when they catch me, they almost always give me the old “ohmygrob, how old are you, you’ll upset the balance of society and implode the world as we know it” side glance.
Like seriously, though? What is so criminally wrong about me enjoying the experience of grocery shopping for once in my life that gets your panties/boxers in such a tangle?
Once again. It’s convenient, it’s fast, and it happens to be fun. When did the words “adult” and “fun” become antonym arch enemies? It just bothers me so much that the concept of adult behavior has such an uptight connotation. If you ever take a moment to watch a little kid dance you can witness the kind of benign, unbridled non-inhibition that makes you go, “Man, what does that kid have that makes them so happy and carefree about such a trivial moment that I don’t?”
Surprise. I can give you the answer.
It’s not so much what they do have, so much as what they don’t have…
Do you really want to know the secret?
Well, alright. But you’ll have to lean in real close…
The answer is…
A stick up their butt! They don’t have such a stick up their butt.
When people become adults they suddenly take on this snooty high perspective. It makes them look down on the little people they once were and stomp on all the cool, fun things that used to make them happy. It’s inappropriate, they say. It’s uncalled for…But really, they’re just trying to make themselves feel better about conforming to the boring standards that society says makes them worthy of being called “a responsible adult.” For some people, at a certain time in their life there has to be a line that’s drawn that says,
“Look. That is where you were, and this is where you are now. We’re going to throw in a whole bunch of arbitrary rules into your behavior set so that you don’t forget. What’s that?…No, no. The fact that you have a job, pay your taxes, and support your family financially and emotionally isn’t enough! We’re gonna make you follow these rules too. Just in case. You know, so you don’t forget.”
Pshhh. Yeah, sounds like a real reasonable trade off…
I’ll stick with my Trix and shopping cart rides thank you. And I’ll have the mental/emotional independence to know that I can still call myself a respectable adult, too.