>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
May 7, 2006

Some people can’t pinpoint the exact moment they grew up. Most people realize it one day when they say no to going out on a Saturday night so they can beat the morning crowd at Crate and Barrel to feng shui their apartment. Others suddenly realize it somewhere in their thirties when they find themselves trading in their coupe for a minivan. Then there are the ones who can tell you the exact moment, the exact date, the time zone, and the place they were when they realized that every bit of carefree life was discarded and forgotten about like and empty beer can on Greek Night. And on a cold Tuesday afternoon, Central Standard Time, in the Sears Auto center that moment came for me when I applied and received a Sears credit card to pay for new tires. Nothing screams adulthood more than replacing the student I.D. card you’ve been using long after graduation for discount movies, with a Sears card.

But wait, I can defend my application for a Sears card. You see, my car needed new tires, and I’m not above Sears. I just question the person who’s distributing the credit. How can Sears give me a $3000 line of credit and yet Nordstrom only gives me $500? That’s like either six new refrigerators or one pair of shoes. And if I knew where Creditland was, I’d go to town beating the shit out of the president with my new Jimmy Choos.

Another part of growing up I’ve noticed is that, much like in high school and college, people mold themselves into cliques. Only in addition to being associated with certain groups based on looks and weight, shockingly, we are now judged by how much money we make. On one side you’ve got the typical 20-year-old starting out still living at home but saving up for a place of their own. (You know that any day now you’re going to get that dreaded phone call asking you to help him move.)

“The same guys who wouldn’t go near the salad bar were now sticking vegetables in their alcoholic beverages. Is that a symptom of growing more mature?”

Then you’ve got the yuppies-in-the-making on the other side of the spectrum. This breed has somehow managed against all odds to make at least $40,000 their first year out of college. This is fine. America = capitalism, so good for them beating the system. But now they have rich friends and don’t necessarily want to associate themselves with those lower on the totem pole of corporate America.

And finally, the lowest of the low, the few who stay in the performing arts, living on budgets that rival a monk’s poverty vow, but who claim to be happy that they’re performing at the improv for free on their weekends. Because, you know, it’s giving them exposure. So what if they’re all living on one raw potato a day for the past month because it’s all they can afford? It’s about the art.

Of course, the universal sign of inevitably growing up is when your friends start to get engaged. Sure, it’s fine if they’ve been dating all through college or have been together since high school, but those couples who have been dating less than a year and are using the term “soulmate” liberally annoy me to the point where I would rather break off my toe nails and consume them than listen to the story of how they met for the fifteen billionth time. If you’re one of those “engaged-in-6-months” couples that was offended by that, FUCK YOU. Focus on the bigger issue: you’ll be divorced by Labor Day.

It especially aggravates me when sham friends start dropping the “destined to be together/fate brought us together”crap—particularly if they start using this language in the bar setting. Bars are for single people who are looking for a hookup, not sham couples sharing their big future plan. Go home and open a bottle of wine with some fucking brie cheese. Don’t come to the bar and make the drunk single people tell you what we really think ofyour fiancée. Do you really want me to congratulate you on finding someone with low self-esteem? Whoo hoo! Good for you! Well done! Way to be able to root out the one girl with the lowest of standards. You’re the man buddy. Let’s just hope she doesn’t realize she’s too pretty for you before you knock her up.

A couple of friends and I recently attended an engagement party for a couple who’s been together for eight years, and even though they probably have used the term soulmate at some point, they’ve kept the term where it belongs: between the two of them in their soundproof sky-rise apartment. Well, the party was at a very swanky restaurant with a very swanky open bar and you could easily tell who was “selling out” so to speak by what they drank. Those guys who’ve been drinking Bud Light and only Bud Light since high school completely switched gears and ordered Ketel One martinis with those mini-onions on a stick the entire night. That’s right, the same guys who wouldn’t go near the salad bar (in the dining hall or a legitimate restaurant) were now sticking vegetables in their alcoholic beverages. And enjoying them. Is that a symptom of bird flu or simply growing more mature? I say bird flu.

Some politician was on the news the other day trying to scare America about the bird flu. He asked the public if we were comfortable having the government that handled Hurricane Katrina deal with the potential bird flu epidemic. I’m pretty sure this was the same guy who was running from the Capitol building five years ago when threatened with the prospect of anthrax, but told the rest of America to go on with their lives as if everything was normal. (I just realized I was going to make a political joke, but that would be a clear indication I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong, John Stewart is hilarious, but I’ll start making political jokes when I start to gray or start to actually know something about politics.)

A good friend of mine is dating an older man. By older I mean 28, which really isn’t that old. I dated one before. It didn’t work out, but that had little to do with his age and more to do with the fact that he was a selfish British piece of shit. Anyway, a lot of our guy friends are always making snide comments about his age. I think they’re just threatened that all the single women in their age pool are going to be snatched up by older men…because there’s a lot to be said for a man who is established, doesn’t live at home, and can afford to pay for both of you to take a weekend trip…to the Caribbean. It’s an enticing alternative to hanging out with the guys who never go out and end up playing poker and drinking a combination of PBR and Johnny Walker Red every Friday night in the one guy’s house whose parents are gone for the weekend. Oooooooooh, you’re really developing classy taste. My palate can barely tell this whiskey was stolen from your parent’s liquor cabinet.

Tell me, what age group are post-grad women supposed to be looking for now? Are we supposed to try and compete with each other for the attention of the handsome investment banker with a loosened tie drinking Amstel Lights in the yuppie bar? I mean, sure, they look great in comparison to the younger men who are playing a rousing game of beer pong in their dad’s garage, but at the same time, this is a whole new playing field. And quite honestly, I’m not sureI’m ready to venture into this new territory without some extensive research. Seriously.

True story: Back in December, I was trying to look like I was somebody, waiting for my twenty dollar Cosmo at a posh bar. This guy started talking to me, and while I wasn’t attracted to him at all, I just made jokes. He laughed, I laughed. There was no connection, but it was good conversation. I got my drink, excused myself, and went back to my friends. Ten minutes later in the bathroom I was approached by three women, each epitomizing the stereotype of 6-foot Amazon blonde princess. They surrounded me like lionesses over athree-legged zebra and explained that the guy I had met at the bar was off limits. Their friend, who I could only presume was the ringleader Amazon Queen, had apparently been working on landing this guy since early that summer.

At a mere 5-foot four (with heels), I daringly asked them who the fuck they were talking about. They said his name and I recognized that he played for the Chicago Bulls. They then told me that I wasn’t ready for the big leagues. Fearing that their next move was going to be shoving my head into the toilet while rain dancing, I rounded up the girls and headed to another bar—one with plenty of televisions sets and peanut shells on the floor. And while I normally don’t shy away from confrontation, I know when to pick my battles and no way was I going to fuck with Xena: Warrior Princess over some point guard who plays a sport I don’t even watch.

However, I totally would have thrown down if he were a hockey player. I’m not growing up so fast that I don’t recognize when to take a stand for what’s right.

Growing up isn’t about art or money or diamond rings. It’s about growing apart. I think that’s the one major fear about getting older. Everyone starts moving in different directions, and you’re only reunited when you’re all free the one weekend in January to haul ass to Wisconsin, or Montana, or whatever cornfield you graduated from to prove you’ve still got the same tolerance you left with. Afterwards you begrudgingly get on twenty different planes to fly back to the same location: your new reality. So Cinco de Mayo was this past Friday. And for those of you on Lawrence University campus who don’t remember where you were the past two years, you were in my room drinking free Corona, doing tequila shots, and puking all over my shower. Gina and Casey even invented this game where you drink every time you said the word ” the” or a word beginning with the letter “d.” There were no survivors. You know what I did this year? I played the Harry Potter version of Scene It while babysitting my cousins. And I'm not going to lie, making them drink their milk every time Harry appeared on the screen wasn't half as much fun as watching Isaac consume an entire jar of blazing hotsalsa in under two minutes last year. Workisms

So my friend and co-worker Erinn quit. She went off to an amazing company to go create some amazing designs you’ll see on billboards in a couple months. And while I loved working with her, I’m kinda relieved that I don’t have to go rock climbing every Wednesday now. I haven’t been progressing at all and I still climb the beginner’s wall. 12-year-olds are out-climbing me, and I’m just embarrassing myself in front of the hot guys by making them strap me up every week. I also don’t think the other patrons appreciate the sexual moans that erupt from my mouth as they secure my harness either.

But it really does suck when one of the co-workers you genuinely like gets employed somewhere else. Erinn was seriously my best friend at the firm. No matter what kind of work day we were having, we’d always find some reason to laugh together. We’d plot to cover another co-worker’s car in Post-It notes, but mostly we’d quote comedians whose albums we downloaded on iTunes. No one else at the production meetings had any idea why we were singing Dane Cook’s timeless rendition of “HELLLLLOOOO I’M A CARRRRRRR. LET’S GO FOR A RIDDDDDDEEEEE! OIL IS OUR BLOOD!” but it was well worth the looks from our boss thinking we were both insane and completely incompetent.

I should mention that I quit my job the same day Erinn did, but I am still there and will be until June 1st. And then, if Jesus isn’t too pissed that I saw The Da Vinci Code the day before my audition, he’ll answer my prayers and I’ll be going back to school by August. This time I decided to apply somewhere with a beach and a halo of thick smog. Say what you will about LA, but the crime rate there doesn’t scare me nearly as much as living at home with my mom.

We have a new intern at work too. She reads this column so I can’t talk about her until I leave to avoid any sort of awkward situations in the boardroom. But I will say that I have never seen anyone kicked around the office more than her. She started off with her own office, then was sent to a cubicle, then back to her original office, and finally back to a different cubicle. Is our boss trying to re-enact the trail of tears with one intern? This isn’t the 1800’s. You can’t expect her to just pack up her belongings and the buffalos every week to move from one reservation to the next. Seriously, she should start bringing in slot and video poker machines to set up in the server room with Milton and his red fucking stapler. Might as well capitalize on the situation. That’s what grownups do right? Right? Any grownups reading this? No? Good. We’re still safe.