Thursday, April 30, 2009

Man or Boy?

For a while now, I’ve been walking a line of sever confusion over whether I am now a man or still merely a boy. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I consider myself, and what I think others should consider me. It’s difficult to discern where the vague line between the two is, and what exactly would propel me over into the realm of manhood. Firstly, I’m not even very sure if there is one surefire thing or method to determine what makes you a man. Do you become a man the first time you wear a pair of Wranglers, or punch somebody in the face? Do you become a man when you lose your virginity, or when you become married? Is it when you get your first job, or buy your own car? Is it when you simply reach a certain age? Who is to say what it is to truly be a male, and is there anyone qualified to make such a rule? If they are, where, why, and how did they choose their criteria? Does a man have to watch sports on the weekends and pretend that his cock is much larger than it actually is? Does he have to drink beer and know how to tie a tie?
What classifies a man, and am I a man?
I don’t know really, but at 21 I’d like to think so. But why? Isn’t it better to be merely a boy? It’s not too far-fetched to say that your typical child doesn’t have nearly as many responsibilities and stressful problems that men do. One could argue that the best case scenario would be if you were stuck—for lack of a better word—somewhere in the middle, and you’re walking the line where you’re both a boy and a man. Like a cross between Peter Pan and George Clooney, or Kevin Arnold and Brett Favre. Can that happen?
I say absolutely, and I’m going to go so far as to say that I am living proof.
Now, I feel like I should say that I’ve never been all that concerned with labels. People could call me either a boy or a man, and I wouldn’t even think twice about it, because it never made a difference to me. But at my age, it’s hard not to think about every once in a while, because people start to expect certain things from you, and there are certain irresponsibilities that you just cannot get away with anymore, and you find yourself worrying about stuff you’d never even considered before, like where you’ll work after college and how to make enough money to afford the largest flat screen you can possibly find. People expect you to be a man, and I think I’ve rose to that challenge, but people also don’t really want you to become a lame tightass. I believe it’s important to keep some of those endearing characteristics you had as a boy with you for, well, maybe your entire life.
So, I guess I’ll separate the man from the boy as best as I can right now.

I’ve driven a car at over 100 miles per hour, until the governor on my car shut the engine down. I’ve been pulled over by law enforcement officials (pigs) for a number of road violations, with one of them resulting in a pretty fucking big ticket. When the officer approached my window, I didn’t start crying or feed him some bullshit about how I was going so fast because I had to urinate. I didn’t say my grandmother was sick, or make any other excuse. I took the ticket, because I was going 81 in a 65, which is blatantly illegal, and justly so. I owned up, because men own up.

I’ve never shot a gun, which I admit does not make me seem all that manly, but I have cooked many stakes and other forms of meat. I’ve eaten them, as well, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn’t feel a need to shoot them, because I could go to the local grocery store and purchase them pre-cut. I figured that if I did that instead of sitting outside in the freezing cold for hours I’d save a shitload of time and effort. So, even though I don’t really know much about guns, I am efficient, and that shit is manly.
Speaking of efficiency, I can type over 100 words per minute, with very few mistakes. Some say that would make me a good secretary, but I’m a man, so I tell those people to fuck off. I actually use this skill to write things every once in a while. My ultimate goal in life is to be a writer. Men have ultimate goals, I think. Sometimes, I get paid to write things, so I’ve been paid to do something that I love. I do what I want to, and occasionally get paid for it.
I love food. All kinds of food. I actually recently spent about an hour writing something about fortune cookies. Because of this, I’ve become adept enough at cooking to not be afraid to make a woman dinner. Every man should be able to make a respectable meal for a woman. I’ve done it before, for my mother on Valentine’s day. I did this because I appreciate my mother and all that she has done for my family and myself throughout the years (and I didn’t have a Valentine). I’m not afraid to admit that I need this woman in my life, and I’ll undoubtedly need some of the qualities that she has instilled in me forever.
With that being said, I’ve fought verbally with my mother, and not stood down in any way. A man should know that just because someone is special to them, they aren’t always right, and that respect doesn’t always mean the willingness to be silent when you feel slighted.
I have voted for a president, and known exactly why I was doing so. It wasn’t to be trendy, and it wasn’t because he was half black, or half white, or had larger than average ears that tend to stick out and remind me of that freckled dude on the cover of Mad Magazine. It was because I dug his opinions on certain things that I hold in pretty high accord.
I’m not really a fan of organized religion (but I do believe in God). Again, this is not to be trendy (I’m really not very trendy). It is because I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but never narrowed my sights to one exclusive school of thought. I researched and questioned things, which allowed me to come to my own conclusions. I don’t expect others to think this way, and they can believe what they choose. I’m not King George. I just believe that religions have ulterior motives, and I can’t get down with that. I mean, sure, I have ulterior motives for most things, too. My real motive for writing this is that women will fall in love with my eloquent prose and want to do sexual things to me, but I don’t go around bringing a higher being into that. Know what I’m saying? If you’re a man, think about it. You’ll get it, and if not, you can always ask me. I’ll drop some knowledge.
I fucking hate losing. Anybody who say that it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game is either a boy or some kind of idiot, and they are lying to themselves. You don’t get involved in things that you might lose without at least wanting to win. (Unless it’s youth soccer and you get Little Debbies and Capri Suns after the game. Then it’s a totally different story.) When you do participate in these—be it sports, a game of Dungeons & Dragons or a fucking danceoff—and feel the pain of losing, you try your best to get better at them. I hated losing so badly that I mastered the art of putting a spherical orange ball into a metal hoop with consistency from as far as 50 feet away. I did this through stubborn and countless repetitions, through a lot of sweat and hours alone in a gym or on an asphalt driveway. I got good enough at it that I was recruited to play in college, and so I did. For about two months. When I realized I wasn’t having any fun, I shrugged and walked away from the game forever. Then I got drunk. I think a man realizes when he doesn’t like something that he’s able to quit (not things like raising a child or paying taxes), he does just that. A man realizes that even though his entire life isn’t going to be a lot of joyous jubilation, he doesn’t have to waste his time doing something that he doesn’t enjoy. If we spent all of our time doing things we hated when we weren’t at work, when would we masturbate, drink beer, and watch football? We wouldn’t. And then we just pretty much wouldn’t be men anymore.
I have amazing friends; the kind of friends that will be your friends for the rest of your life. We don’t spite each other, lie to each other, or refuse to help one another out, no matter what the task. We’ve done a lot of laughing and even some crying together. I can say that, even though I feel like I’m a very solitary person, I need these friends. Every man should have at least one friend like this (and I’m very blessed to have more), and he should be able to admit to himself and everyone else that he needs them. Because we need certain people. Every man does.
One time, on my 21st birthday, I drank 28 drinks between the hours of 12 and 2 a.m. I then proceeded to fall over behind the bar, where they serve the drinks. I was subsequently ejected from said bar, and was carried home by my friends as I imitated Dave Chappelle the entire way. I woke up the next day, and went to class. I can handle my booze and still fulfill all of my responsibilities, and a true man is capable of such a balancing act.
I frequently use the word “fuck,” and other swear words. I know when to exercise restraint, and I only use them to emphasize certain emotions. I don’t say “fuck” to amuse myself or others, but because I realize it’s the most effective word in the English language for expressing pretty much any emotion. I’ve found that it’s really good for expressing disdain, surprise, anger, profundity, and confusion. Fuck is basically a four letter exclamation point, and to use it properly is an art. A manly art.
Speaking of the word “fuck,” the Bronte sisters can all go fuck themselves.
Obviously, since I’ve given so much thought to the word “fuck,” I must spend a lot of time alone. I do, and that’s fine, because I’ve grown to enjoy solitude. I spent my entire last summer living by myself in an area where I didn’t know a single person. I loved it, because I could do as I pleased, and think about whatever I wanted to for pretty much any length of time. I know a lot of people who can’t stand to be alone, ever. Some people need to be in a relationship all the time, or desperately need the comradeship and approval of others. A man can spend extended amounts of time on his own, and not only entertain himself, but be happy for the solitude. A man can sit in a room and drink alone without crying. Too much, anyway.
Speaking of being alone, I possess a pretty extensive collection of porn. Boys don’t mess around with that shit. At least not on my level.
Speaking of porn, I firmly believe that chivalry is not, in fact, dead. I open the door for women without thinking about it, help them into the car, and may even send them flowers on their birthdays if they’re relatively special. I spend a lot of time yearning for a certain amount of romance, and I’m fairly certain that I could pen a pretty decent love letter if I was ever so inclined. I like holding hands so much that sometimes my friends slap me in the face for doing it. And you know what? I may not be a smart man, Jenny, but I know what love is. People believe that chivalry is going out the window, but me and my fellow men will keep fighting to keep it alive, no matter what happens. A man knows that romance is an important part of life, but that his affinity for it should never outweigh his good judgment. We usually learn this lesson the hard way.
I don’t get into fights often, but when I do I almost always win the verbal ones. And, one time I fist-fought my older brother when I was butt ass naked over who go to take the first shower in the morning. We also fought over possession of chicken wings once. Like a caveman, I needed to protect my food. I think it should be noted, for the record, that cavemen were extremely manly, and they had never shot guns either.

I’m still a boy because I spend most of my time daydreaming. My head’s always in the clouds, thinking about how things could be better for me, and more fortuitous. I’m not yet to the age where I can just sit back and look at the successes and happiness that I’ve found and accept it as enough. Anytime I feel as though I’m right where I should be, I remind myself not to settle. For some reason, I’m still unable to be content or satisfied, and this is something that may be hurting me. If it’s not now, it might in the long run. I think I might finally be satisfied when I have a pet unicorn or superhero abilities. I only want the abilities, though, because I’m not mature enough to take on the responsibilities of an actually superhero.

I’m still a bit hesitant to commit to most things, especially relationships with women. Mainly, because I’m very frightened of women. It’s just something that’s been instilled in me through the years, because I’m programmed to fear what I don’t understand, and I obviously do not understand girls. They’re either way too complicated, or so simple that I over think them. Boys are scared of things like that. And I guess the fact that they have vaginas doesn’t really help, either.
I still say “That’s what she said” at any possible time, and then I cackle like a fucking idiot after doing so. Usually for about five minutes, and then by the time I’m done laughing I’ve already found another spot to insert that overused saying into. The process repeats itself, and it’s like a never-ending cycle. I’m such a boy that I even get pissed at myself for how immature I am sometimes.
Sometimes in the mornings, I’ll eat a Snicker’s bar and drink a can of Mountain Dew instead of having a Nutri Grain and drinking coffee like a normal adult.
Sometimes I still do some stupid things when I’m drunk, like puke or tell people ill-advised and extremely emotional things. Just a few nights ago, my best friend and me puked off of our balcony. One night, I got so drunk in my dorm room that I sleepwalked three floors down to our dormitory’s basement. I woke up six hours later on a couch in the laundry room, wearing only boxer briefs and a dumbfounded expression. I also didn’t have my key to get back onto my floor and into my room. Last summer, I got drunk and sleepwalked into my kitchen, where I proceeded to flood my kitchen floor with water from the Culligan dispenser.
I still listen to “Mmmbop.” That just might make me a queer, I don’t know.
Whenever I have certain feelings about things that I don’t want to discuss, I use sarcasm and jokes to attempt to change the subject. This pisses a lot of people off, but I’ll probably keep doing this until I somehow can’t anymore. Or until my head gets forcefully pulled from my ass.
A few weeks ago, I was on a trip with my family. My brother and I went out to the bar while the rest of our tribe retired to our adjoining hotel rooms. We got pretty intoxicated, and proceeded to go to Wal*Mart, where we purchased ridiculous fishing hats and an air horn. We then took the air horn back to our hotel, and jumped up and down on our parents’ bed setting it off. It was an awesome time, but not something I feel a man would do.
I will jump at any chance to watch Peter Pan, Aladdin, or The Lion King. And I still believe that these Disney movies will teach you more about life than any documentary you watch, if you let them.
I’m reading the fucking Twilight series.
I still count Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon as two of my favorite books of all time.
I’m only ever really comfortable in tennis shoes, or no shoes at all, and I hate socks.
Recently, I got engaged (on Facebook). I gave the girl a mood ring.
I’m still very afraid of heights, and my hands get clammy when I see someone doing something from a treacherous height on TV.

I’m very impatient, and that’s why I’m going to end this right now. There are many, many more things I could write trying to discern whether I’m a man or a boy, and maybe someday I will. But for now, you can make your own judgment, if you’d like to. I don’t really care. I’m very apathetic (boy), but if you throw me a comment trying to belittle me, I’ll bang your mom (man).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fortune Cookies

Allow me to preface this by stating that I absolutely love Chinese food, and I eat it a lot; probably more than is healthy, necessary, or even rational. I tend to believe that this stems from the affection for chicken that has been instilled in me my for as far back as I can remember. In my opinion, nobody gets more creative with chicken than the people who work for American-based Chinese food outlets.

(Here's the part where everyone's thinking or making some smart-assed remark about how Chinese restaurants really serve dogs and cats instead of chicken. Do me a favor, and stop it with that shit. Please. You and I both know that it's extremely played out, and not even remotely true. I think I know the difference between a chicken and a beagle, especially when one or the other is in my mouth, and I have never eaten Kung Pao Shiloh in my life. Wow. Do you see how passionate I am about Chinese food? I'm even going to bat for an ethnicity and culture I am not in any way affiliated with and don't even remotely understand...they seem to like strange cartoons over there a little too much. This is a sign that I either really stand up for what I believe in, or I really like food way too much. You can decide.)

Anyway, I order Chinese a lot, and they bring it right to my door. All I do is sign a slip of paper and they give me a brown paper bag filled with all sorts of delightful things. As far as eating a meal goes, the only way I think it could get any better would be if they included in that bag a little sugary thing shaped like a boomerang that has a little piece of paper in it that has a wise saying printed on it in red letters.

Actually, they do have that, and it's called a fortune cookie. So, it can't really get any better. The way I see it, these are supposed to give you a fortune that tells you about something that's going to happen to you eventually. This used to be how it was, back in the day, but it seems like now I get them and they just have stupid sayings that don't even mention anything about what will become of your life in the future. This angered me, because everytime I get Chinese food, I expect to be knocked out of my fucking seat by some extremely philosophical sentence about what my desiny ultimately holds (I have admittedly high expectations). Eventually, it got to the point where I just stopped opening them, because I would get all excited about what was inside, and I would always be disappointed. It was a feeling akin to when you would get a mini football helmet keychain out of those coin machines in front of grocery stores and end up with a team you hated.

So, I'd just get my food, throw the fortune cookies into a drawer in our kitchen, and forget about them. I have no idea why I didn't throw them away, but I didn't. Probably because I'm kind of a pack rat. Today i was looking for a bag of chips that I could crush up and put in Spencer's shoes or a can of sardines I could put into his bedroom's heating vent for no good reason, and I found the cookies. Since I have nothing better to do than fuck with my roommate, I decided to open and read all of the cookie, and attempt to analyze them and deduce whether or not they meant anything to my life. Some of them were just stupid sayings, but some did try their best to predict things, and I did my best to figure out if they had happened or not, and if so, in what respect and way they had happened.

I figured I'd type them out here, because again, I apparently have a lot of time on my hands. Believe it or not, there are twenty of them. I don't have a frying pan with a handle, but I do have an abundance of fortune cookies.

This is probably going to be a huge waste of your time, and you probably won't get anything out of it. If this is something that bothers you, just stop reading and do something productive, like watching Oprah or indulging in psychadelic drugs. Do both at the same time, even. I'm not one to judge. Anyway, you can't say I didn't warn you.

The happiest circumstances are close to home: This makes a certain amount of sense to a lot of people, because I guess most people dig being home. To be honest, my hometown is extremely dull and rural, so the only reason I really like to go home is to see my family and the small amount of people I still keep in touch with from the area.

That's not to say that home is without its happy circumstances though, because what I normally do when I'm at home is sit around drinking and watching television. Basically, I get to live the American dream of any man over the age of 40, except I don't wear wife beaters or have a child to run and get his old man another Budweiser from the fridge.

I guess I also get happy when I'm at home because my family is more fun to fuck with than anybody I go to school with. Believe me when I tell you it's a lot more fun to wake your mother up with an airhorn than it is to wake up a roommate.

The first blow does not fell the tree: I laughed at this one a little bit, because I'm still not mature enough to not say "that's what she said" when I read anything that has the word blow in it. On a serious note, though, this does seem like a little bit of a sexual innuendo, though I can't really figure out what it is. My best guess would be that it's trying to tell me that I'm not a premature ejaculator. Strike one against accurate fortunes written in fortune cookies. It's already beginning to occur to me that I'm not very good at analyzing these things.

Don't be afraid to smile, you never know who's falling in love with it!: I'm not sure if this one really applies to me, because I don't think I was frightened to smile even when I had braces. I think it's mostly just a natural reaction, and not something that most people consciously think about--which is why I sometimes look like a big douche bag when I'm told to smile for a picture.

But, I do admit that smiles are very nice to look at, and you can probably fall in love with them. As long as it's not the only thing you fall in love with. I've never heard anyone say they got married because of their spouse's uncanny ability to grin. That might not be the best foundation for a long-term relationship, but I think it's safe to say I'm not the msot qualified person for advice on such things.

But I do like smiling. It's my favorite.

Do you believe? Endurance and persistence will be awarded: This one's vague, and kind of weird. It's like a question, then there's a little bit of advice that is not in any way affiliated with the question that precedes it. I'm very confused by this. I don't know what I'm supposed to believe in, per se, but I think persistence is probably rewarded, at least sometimes. I believe that whoever is writing these things is probably wasted and just spewing out random thoughts. Reading these is like hearing Jim Rome talk.

:) Good news will come to you from far away :) : Those smiley faces were absolutely on there. I didn't add them for flavor.

This one is one of the few that actually gives someone a fortune and sticks to the roots of what fortune cookies are supposed to be about, which leads me to believe that I received a cookie that is at least five years old, because they don't make 'em like this anymore.

Stunningly, this one actually has come true for me. I've gotten a lot of good news from far away locations lately, and I feel pretty fortunate about it. Probably the funniest good news though has come in the form of a monetary check. Allow me to explain.

In the months leading up to my spring break I was approaching financial ruin, and was desperate to find a way to make some money that I could use to pay for my trip to Florida. Some of my friends and I were sitting around and watching some television one evening when we saw a commercial for I realized that somewhere around my house I had a ring that I had given my ex-girlfriend when we were together, and had no idea what I was going to do with it.

So, naturally, I sent it to Cash4Gold's headquarters and they mailed me a check for it. That check was good news from a far away location (they're located in California).

I sold the ring I bought my ex-girlfriend on, and it paid my gas fees to get to and from Florida! Tell me I shouldn't be on one of those commercials.

Live in THIS moment: Back to advice instead of fortunes, but I don't really mind. This is a pretty solid little slip of paper, and I'm all about living in the moment. The only thing I don't particularly understand is how they expect people to live in the moment in which they typically open a fortune cookie, which would be after finishing their Chinese. I don't know about you, but that's one of the few times that I really look to the past and wish I was there; and by past I mean the 10 minutes prior when I was actually eating some lo mein. The only time I'm satisfied with living in the moment immediately after eating Chinese is when I have an abundance of left-overs in the refrigerator.

Now is a great time to broaden your scope of influence: Yeah, that should be really fucking easy, since I'm looking to work professionally as a journalist for a newspaper or magazine. In case you aren't really in the know, publications are folding all over the country, the economy is in its worst shape since the depression, and nobody reads anymore. God, if I want to influence anyone, I'm going to have to write a book about teenaged vampires or the intense companionship I have with my dog. I can't do the latter, because I eat so much Chinese, and we all know that the Chinese kill dogs and serve them, right? So I don't really care that much about dogs, apparently. (See, I told you. That shit is not even close to funny. Point made). Or I'll have to start a blog or something, and blogs are for little bitches.

Do your best to make it happen: For some reason this makes me think of me with my hand on Lenny's shoulder, gazing deeply into his eyes and giving him a pep talk that could ultimately result in him making the two-backed beast with a female. If this is a fortune, I really hope it comes true soon.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination: Two things about this.

1) I must be the smartest kid in the world if the true sign of intelligence is based on imagination. I'm writing over a thousand words about fucking fortune cookies right now, and I'm not even under the influence of any kind of drug except enthusiasm. I've been blowing rails of happiness all day long.

2) Only poor people who wish they were artists and haven't succeeded in pretty much anything say things like this.

:) You have a natural grace and great consideration for others :) : Yeah, tell me something I don't know. Just kidding, I'm easily one of the most un-graceful people I've ever encountered. Ask anyone who has seen my two-step dance, and they will tell you all about it. I have scars on my body from just walking around and falling on my face. That is not grace.

Some say faith is nowhere. Others say faith is now here: Look at that wordplay. It's like Jason Mraz's understudy is writing fortune cookies. I don't really even know how to go about trying to figure this one out, because faith can be a pretty confusing thing. Like trying to figure out why boobs are good or why anybody likes Nickelback.

You are one of those people who goes places in life: This is so true. I went to Scranton last weekend, and I went to two classes today. I go mad places.

This is the year when ingenuity stands high on the list: It really is that year for me. But I think ingenuity always stands pretty high on the list. At least it always makes it higher than doing actual meaningful work or making something presentable of myself.

What's vice today may be virtue tomorrow: This one just doesn't make any sense at all. How can a vice become a virtue? What if your vice is a hard drug addiction? How can that ever become a virtue? If a heroin addict got this fortune cookie, they may be given a great deal of false hope, and nothing is worse than false hope.

You are born with the sixth sense and superb insight: First of all, this isn't a fortune, because it tells me about something I was born with, not something that's eventually going to happen. This particular fortune cookie was not anywhere near the delivery room on November 6, 1987, so it doesn't know what I was born with. It's a pretty sweet compliment though, if it does end up being true. I'd love to have superb insight. I just don't know if I want the ability to see dead people though.

One extends one's limits only by exceeding them: Obviously. Who writes these, John Madden? I think this particular cookie is telling me that I should go out and try to drink more than 28 drinks in one night. That's pretty much my most extreme limit, and I feel like I should try to extend it sometime.

Time is the wisest counselor: This can be true, but I think I lean more towards experience.


Well, that was fun. I guess I learned that fortune cookies aren't always accurate, but they can definitely make you think about things. I also learned that I'm a dumbass for ever thinking that a cookie could tell me where I'm going with my life, because I think fate extends much further than a sugary snack, if fate does indeed exist.