In Defense of “Manchildren,” Because You Probably Won’t Freak the Fuck Out When You’re 50

I went to a yoga class yesterday that was so difficult my friend actually sighed the word, “jerk,”  when the guy gave us a string of commands that didn’t even end in a tasty biscuit. After the class, I was so tired and relaxed that I became a conduit for stranger-talk. People on the street will often approach me to talk about their family trips to Kauaii and the new no-salt and no-sugar diets their doctors put them on to assuage inflammation in their knees, or even their sudden frustration about the damn constitution(!). I like listening and sometimes joining the conversation, so it’s never a burden. Honestly, I do this with close friends as well. If you know me, think back to when we first met and what important personal events or tragedies we talked about. I probably told you something as well. Much easier to remember: Lucy, the one with difficult periods and a younger brother addicted to Oxycontin, than: Lucy with brown hair. Hi, Lucy! How’s your brother! Still alive? That’s fucking rad!

After yoga, my conduit power is doubled. After speaking to four different canvassers from the United Nations refugee project, I finally got into the pet shop I was looking for. A sign on the door said, “There may be construction; ownership is changing hands.” I asked the woman at the counter, whom Yelp told me was named Jean and had started this store six years earlier out of a passion for providing affordable, natural pet products to the downtown area, if her store was closing. She didn’t want to sell it, but the divorce… She proceeded to tell me a  story about her now-ex-husband that completely mirrored that of my mother’s story with my step-father and several of her friends’ stories as well. Here are two simple catalysts for divorce right now: Facebook, and someone turning 50. More often than not, it is the man turning 50 who does it. I’m sorry, men. I’m not picking on you. It’s just the current state of things. However, these are just catalysts we’re talking about, not underlying problems.

This article discusses UK stats, but the UK is our big bro, and we can still learn something from them. According to the report, one in five divorces involve Facebook. Whoa, bro! We just gave a shit-ton more legitimacy to a social networking site in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I seriously just share blog posts, news articles, and cat videos on my Facebook page, and occasionally something I think is funny, cuz I need some “likes” in my life. BUT I have a social life outside of my computer (at least that’s what I’m desperately trying to cling to).

Does anyone watch Mad Men? Of course you do. All those sad, despicable people. Nothing can conjure all the heartache and drama of a morning commute on the 101 into Hollywood like all those well-dressed people making terrible choices. Terrible choices like passing cars on the off-ramp at Normandie. Could you imagine if Facebook existed during the Mad Men time? Don would have an OK Cupid profile and another alternate OK Cupid profile he would use to ghost his ex-wife, and Pete Campbell would definitely have one of those iPhone-in-the-bathroom profile photos. But all of them would have gotten divorced in the first season, and then the rest of the show is just the aftermath of Betty starting a bakery and Bertram Cooper friending his high school girlfriend to reminisce about her bout with polio. Oh, those were the good old days. In the time of Mad Men, though, socializing outside of your family was limited mostly to the workplace after you got married and shot out the kids, and we’re like so totally past that, right?

No.

We Americans love watching that show and thinking about how fucked up life used to be, but there are a good many of us who NEVER TALK ABOUT THEIR PROBLEMS. Heads up, Midwest. Which is why I’m falling madly in love with “manchildren” right now. (I am not in any way referencing my bf, just the concept of “manchildren.”) Every movie with a manchild has this poor sap somewhere between 25-40 who just can’t seem to ditch his video games or something, so he can grow up and take care of a woman, blah blah blah. But one thing is for sure: manchild is totally talking about his problems. In fact, he can’t stop! We watch 2 hours of manchild thinking about, dreaming about, masturbating to, crying over, and, in the end, tackling his problems. MANCHILD GOT PROBLEMS! And while this perpetuated image has in part fueled generations of men in thinking this is how they should be behaving (yo, women have Cameron Diaz romantic comedies, so I’m not judging/blaming you fellas), you men are far too smart to continue that manchild trend for forever. No matter what cultural images of Seth Rogan-as-leading-man are thrown at you, you’re too smart, and you get bored. The chances of your turning 50 and signing up for Facebook to stalk your high-school sweetheart are ridiculously low, because you did that like 15 years ago, and you already deleted your Facebook account, because you were tired of people posting screenshots of their iPhones. Autocorrect is hilarious! For about an hour.

Anyway, men of ages 25-40, you have to deal with a great deal more of the soul-searching than your 50-year-old counterparts did. You’re a generation in flux, and I think that’s pretty cool, because it means you weren’t happy with the alternative of Facebook flings in your 50s and starting “drinking clubs” that have matching t-shirts that all say “Over the Hill and Under the Table.” Believe me, the t-shirts sound cool, but it’s pretty pathetic to watch a group of divorceés do Jagerbombs until one of them has to drunkenly text his teenage daughter to pick him up on the corner. (This is actually my step-dad’s club.) Plus, I mean, are there membership dues? I hate clubs. What if I just want to drink alone? Do I have to limit my drinking to the club? I couldn’t even hang with my Brownie troop for the required hour after school. How do these guys do it?

I’ve raged on you before, concept of manchild, and people are constantly demanding that you grow up already, but I’m embracing you now and letting you know you should totally keep doing what you’re doing, because I have faith in you. I have as much faith in you as I do in your current 25-year-old girlfriend who constantly whines for your attention at the bar by putting her feet up on your lap whilst drunkenly tweeting things like, “Theres NUTHING wurs then boyfriends who dont luv u!!!” knowing full well you will see it. Y’know what? RETWEET THAT SHIT, and hold onto that keeper. You’re both fucked up. It’s not your fault. But now you gotta figure it out together. Before you have kids. Before you turn 50. Because the way this economy is going, neither of you will ever make enough money to buy a motorcycle or Ferrari or the Tommy Bahama clothing to accompany them.

In the time of your 50-year-old Facebook Fling, you will no longer gather round the Christmas tree to sing the 12 Days of Christmas song with your family. You will instead sing the 12 Days of Tommy Bahama Camp Shirts, to which nobody can remember the words, except for the final lyric, "One last shaker of salt," which you will sing in unison, loudly and clearly, with the five other men in your drinking club. Merry Camp Shirt, fellas!

 

 

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