Tuesday, May 03, 2005

All Grown Up?

Well after a week of waiting, I'm almost there. Tommorrow the wife and I are off to go buy our new bikes.

You wanna know what the sad thing is? I'm actually excited.

I remember being a kid and looking at the adults around me. They were into grown up things, like job, cars and the Ten o' Clock News. I'd always assumed that when I grew up, I'd stop being interested in the things I was into. I pictured a day coming when I'd only be interested in grown up stuff as well.

Apparently that never happened.

I'm a 24 year old, married, ex-government worker with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Mentally, however, I still feel somewhere between 10 and 14.

So in a way, it seems to me that life is backwards. When you're a kid you want all kinds of toys, games and gadgets, but don't have the money. When you're finally old enough to afford all of those toys games and gadgets, you're not supposed to want them.

Unfortunately, once you've a grown up, you no longer have to just be able to afford a particular item, you actually have to be able to justify it. Not only to yourself, but your friends and most importantly, your significant other.

Now, a bike is not exactly a good example of this. You can justify a bike to yourself very easily.

Until I get my green card in the US, I can't get a drivers licence, and my british licence was only valid for the first 90 days I was here. A bike is a cheap and easy way to get around, licence free, and manages to come under the heading of excercise equipment...something that is acceptable at any age.

So can someone please explain to me why I want hundreds of things that are deemed 'inaproppriate' for my age.

It is possible to justify some things to yourself. For example at Christmas the wife and I bought a set of Lazer Tag guns. These are toys, plain and simple, but the way I look at it, running around is excercise, and millions nationwide play paintball. We chose the lazer tag because:

1) It doesn't hurt like a son-of-a-b*tch when you get hit

2) Batteries are cheaper than paintballs

3) My father in law (Whose property we live on at the moment), would go spare if we painted all of his trees bright orange.

See what I'm getting at here? I own a Lazer Tag set, but it's impossible for me to just mention it in passing to anyone. If you own one and are older than 14 you actually feel the compulsion, almost the need, to justify yourself.

The above are the reasons I used to justify buying the set. The actual reasons are:

1) Paintball guns don't have cool sound effects or voice alerts

2) Paintball doesn't have pre-programmed geek-fest games like hide and seek.

3) Paintball guns don't have an LCD readout and cool flashing lights.

4) Lazer tag guns look just like that...laser guns. Paintball guns look like paintball guns.

So what got me started on this topic today? Well, basically, because we're going to buy our bikes tommorrow, but what REALLY made me think of this topic is the price of the bike I'm going to buy. It happens to be exactly the same amount as a Starwars FX lightsaber that I've wanted ever since I found out they exist.

At first, even the idea of buying a lightsaber was a big no no. This was about a year ago when they were limited edition collectors items and retailed for around $400. That gave me a get out of geek-jail free card. There was no way I could afford it. Recently however, the price dropped to an expensive, but lot more reasonable $100.

This dropped me directly into Justification Limbo. If you were to ask me which I'd prefer, a new bike or a Movie-prop quality lightsaber, the answer is simple. The lightsaber, no question.

So this is where I'd like to be 14 again. At that age the equation is simple. You have X amount of money. You want 2 different things. You can only afford one of them. Which do you buy?

The one you want most, of course.

I hate being a grown up.

Now I have the same question, but I choose the one I want the least. Why? Because that's the only one I can justify.

The more I thought about this, the more I came to the realisation that I couldn't possibly be alone. I remembered mentioning the Lazer Tag set to a friend and, as expected, I got a lot of piss taking at buying a toy, followed by the question of why I didn't go for paintball, the 'acceptable' adult alternative.

My friend then subtly questioning me, appearing to be simply comparing the performance of my lazer tag set with a paintball gun. He got more interested when I mentioned features such as the ability to 'raise shields', hosted games that give you a ranking at the end as well as a breakdown of who shot you, who you shot, MVP etc. He eventually ended with a smirking "...and how much did you pay for those things?"

It was literally weeks later when I realised the truth. My friend wanted a lazer tag set so bad he could taste it. He, however, could not bring himself to shatter his own 'grown-up' self image by buying a 'toy'.

The truth is when friends come to the house they'll never actually suggest a game of lazer tag, but not a single one has refused if I've brought it up.

It's the same with power tools. Power tools are easy to justify. Things break and need fixing. Building things is a grown up, manly thing to do.

Now, I'll probably be assassinated by the Husband's Alliance for telling you this, but the truth must be known:

Power Tools are toys for men.

I discovered this on my first trip to a Hardware store since being married. Just over a year ago, my dad would literally have to drag me around those places, they were boring, not for young, vibrant single men like myself.

First trip after being married, I wanted everything in the store.

Trust me, ladies, there isn't a single married man in the universe who hasn't at some point pulled a power drill from his tool belt, pulled the trigger 3 times in quick succession at an imaginary bad guy, blew across the top of the bit, and re-holstered it with a smug expression. We like drills because they look like guns.

I urge all of you to think about this, people. Really think about it. You may be anywhere from 20 to 90 years old, but when you really think about it, how old do you feel? I'm not talking bodily here, I'm 24 and already have a bad back, I mean in your head. I'm guessing the age is somewhere in the early teens.

Let's look at the evidence:

1) Having Children: Having a child is an expensive endevour. Raising a child from birth to 18 can cost a lot more than a high end house. Yet many people have 2 or 3 children. Plus, from what I've heard, actually giving birth can sting a little.

2) Grandkids. Lets do this one by the numbers. Let's say you have your child in your mid twenties. By the time they reach their mid twenties, you're 50 years old. You've spent the last 20 years of your life taking care of your own kids and now you finally have the house to yourself, a lot more disposable income (it's not being spent on the kids any more), and time and the privacy to do what you want. Yet, as everyone knows, Grandparents dote on their grandchildren, and like to see them at every opportunity.

With so many types of birth control out there now, sex is no longer the main motivating factor for producing babies, and as we've just seen, having children is a painful, expensive and sometimes thankless task. So why do we still have babies at all?


Having a child guarantees a steady influx of toys and games into the house. A 40 year old man running around a field with a toy laser gun is just plain sad, and probably a mental patient. The same 40 year old man, running around with the same toy laser gun having a mock shootout with his children is a fun and dedicated father. Playing outside with the kids, or playing those damned computer games with your kids shows that, Obviously, you're a good father, as obviously you'd much rather be reading the paper, checking up on your investments or hanging new wallpaper...wouldn't you?

We live in a society where so-called 'childishness' is frowned upon (and in some cases can get you thrown in the local loony bin). However, society is just a fancy name for people.

We frown upon childishness, basically because we're afraid of being frowned upon by everyone else if we don't.

If my theory is correct, society consists of Billions of good upstanding people, all of who disaprove of childishness, but are just plain itching to go on a spending spree to Toys 'R' Us.

So here's my point, people. If you want something, and can afford it...buy it, and to hell what everyone else says.

I guarantee you, as soon as I get that work permit and get back in the workforce. That lightsaber is mine; And guess what? It isn't going to be kept in it's original packaging as a collector's item investment.

It's going to be well a thoroughly played with.

Anyway, I have to go now, my favourite show is starting on the Cartoon Network.


serendipity said...

That's fantastic!! I got to work this morning in a bit of a slump, but after reading this i'm still giggling. I love your honesty, you really should consider writing for a living, i'm sure you would have a lot of readers.

Sunny said...

So far I love everything you write, babe!

And I agree with Serendipity- you would have alot of readers.

You know just how to lighten up the mood and put a smile on our faces- mine especially!1

I can't wait to come in from work every morning and read your next article.
Keep making us smile!!

Love you!
Sunny xx