Last weekend, in a cruel and, I might add, unsolicited bid to bulldoze the tenuous façade of self-worth I have so carefully constructed over the past couple of decades, a friend’s son came to visit.
This young man, Chris, is not, sadly, an adorable four year old. He did not require an Elmo doll and an adult escort when deplaning at LAX. He’s not even a hilariously awkward teenager whose feral mood swings and conviction that God knows only slightly more than he does would insure the swift uncorking of wine the moment he opened his mouth. He’s a 27-year-old med student interviewing for a residency position at UCLA.
In other words, a pretty much fully-realized human being.
A grown up.
I suppose I should take solace in the fact that Chris’ dad is a couple years older than me. And that he leapt into fatherhood at an age when most people are experimenting with grain alcohol and Lesbianism (frequently in that order).
But I mean, COME ON.
As I sat and stared at this articulate Yale graduate who hoped to become a researcher in forms of medicine so advanced I can’t even spell them, I couldn’t help wondering how I had actually become 153 years old. How it had happened that I was no longer the 27-year-old setting out to conquer the world?
I wondered if he could hear my spine creaking, or if he felt the need to speak extra loud. I wondered if he thought he should write down big words or reiterate his thoughts several times in case I forgot them in the intervening moments. I wondered if he looked at me with pity, or amusement, or just disdain.
And then I remembered that he was sitting in my (reasonably) nice little tract house in LA. Drinking my (reasonably) nice little vodka. And holding a copy of my (reasonably) successful little book. I remembered that I was taking a (reasonably) nice little trip to Mexico to see his dad in March. And that I had a (reasonably) nice little job at a television network.
And suddenly, this delightful young guy, who reminded me of myself (albeit smarter, handsomer and 85% more rounded) made me almost grateful for the two decades that had passed since I was his age; and for all the events – good, bad and just plain stupid – that had served to mold me into the (reasonably) decent man I am.
And I found myself silently thanking Chris Connelly – not only for being the kind of honorary nephew that I can be so incredibly proud of – but for holding up a mirror.
Of course, now that I look a little closer, I could use a little moisturizer. And some Clairol Natural Instincts for Men.
Hey, I’m not 27 anymore.