By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf
August 29, 2007
Nathan: Man, I don’t know about my parents’ house anymore. After they remodeled, it just doesn’t feel like home. I guess it’s true what they say: you can never go home again.
Chip: I think that’s wrong, dude.
Chip: Because dude, here you are.
The secret to being appreciated by friends and family is to move very far away from them and only visit a few days a year. This way, people actually miss you and you can almost never stay long enough before they realize what an insensitive prick you are (unless you are one seriously insensitive prick, in which case, I’m pretty sure you’ll be treated badly wherever you go).
As I write this column in a feverish, coffee-induced attempt to meet my deadline (my flight leaves in an hour or so), I am sitting in my parents’ house, the house in which I grew up, and well, due to retirement fund availability and basic middle class need (which isn’t actually a “need” by lower class standards but whatever), the place doesn’t look anything like it used to (they remodeled). Worse yet, nothing is where it used to be. Which means even getting a glass of milk while half-drunk is an adventure in orientation.
And the same can be said for my hometown, St. Louis (motto: ridiculous humidity brings everyone together). The stadium I grew up watching the Cardinals in has been torn down and replaced with a more comfortable (and more profitable) ballpark. All of my old high school hangouts have been destroyed, replaced, remodeled or put under new ownership.
“I can't see why anyone would want to add the burden of familial obligation.”
(Side note: I can’t wait ‘till I have kids so I can take them back to St. Louis and show them where all the places I enjoyed used to be. I’ll be all like, “And see that bridge [insert Random Fuck Trophy’s name here], that used to be where my favorite record store was, right next to the sandwich shop that ain’t there anymore and across from an old bar that you now know as a Chinese Buffet.” It’ll be a grand experience, I’m sure.)
Furthermore, my old friends from high school have all changed. Weddings are a weekly occurrence up here, as are baby showers, dinner parties and property evaluation. Most of my old friends are fatter, more conservative and more focused on staying out of trouble than they used to be. And I guess that’s all for the best. I mean, I guess that’s the natural progression of growing up, but it got me thinking.
If growing up basically just means sacrificing your youth and your good times in the name of family and mortgage payments, then what’s the point of even having your youth and good times to begin with? According to most of my friends, the sacrifices are all worth it because, as parents and husbands, they are now providers of youth and good times for their next generation, for all the little rugrats up here getting pushed around in strollers and pushed into youth sports in the name of their parents’ shattered hopes and dreams. According to them, that’s it. That’s the middle class circle of life.
Now, maybe I’m just a selfish bastard who fears commitment and responsibility, but I just can’t see why anyone would want to hinder their life by adding the burden of familial obligation.
Maybe it’s like reader and friend Kevin once told me a while back. Maybe I’ll never understand it until I hold a little kid in my arms and realize that said child is dependent on me, not only for food, clothes and shelter, but also for the kind of person the little snot factory turns into. And maybe one day I’ll get to a point in my life where the need for responsibility kicks in and I’ll sacrifice all the wild good times for conservative, old-fashioned, domestic good times.
But so far, thank God, Allah, Buddha and anyone else who had a hand in it, that hasn’t happened.
And maybe if family life never happens to me, well, maybe, just possibly, not having a family will be my contribution to society at large. (I am, as some have put it, a little messed up.)
And if that is truly the case, well let me be the first to say: y’all welcome.