Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm a Man?

The 9 to 5 people in Vienna--at the tram stop, on the subway--are serious. Expensive shoes, expensive eyeglasses. Briefcases. Combinations of clothes which could be described as "ensembles."

And then there is me. Sneakers. T-shirt. A duct-taped watch band. Holding a mug full of coffee from our kitchen. The mug reads "I (Heart) NY."

I'd like to be well put-together. I have the same style gods the other dudes have--Gregory Peck, Hank Fonda, Clooney--and they're all men who can rock a suit. Heroically. But the truth is, me myself and I more closely resemble a different Hollywood hunk: Woody Allen. And I drive like him too.

But I was flipping through a film encyclopedia last night, and came across a still from Annie Hall: Diane Keaton and the Woodman, in khaki pants and shirts with actual collars, standing and chatting, cocktails in hand, on a Manhattan rooftop. Suddenly I went winsome. 'Even Woody Allen looks more like an adult than I do.'

Was I ever a true grown-up In New York City? I was married, highly-paid, and a responsible cat-owner--in other words, I fit the description of a real man. But did anyone really take me seriously?

Thought the haze, I remember being at Manhattan rooftop parties, Mojito in hand, chatting with important and powerful people, but I know I didn't look as much like a player as Woody Allen does in those trousers. And I've heard plenty of people in my generation say the same thing: "I don't really feel like an adult."

Sometimes I think that since we moved here, and we met our second child, and I've become a manager, I've changed. God knows, by ten p.m. most nights, I'm as tired as an adult.

The conventional wisdom is that some people achieve adulthood, while others have it thrust upon them. I think I've backed into it. Wearing hip hop styles or raver pants is not an option. Long hair, or anything else which covers my eyes, is out. Maybe I've become an adult because I no longer wish to dress like a kid. That would hurt other people more than it would me.

I didn't become responsible so much as discover that it was required of me.

It's also practical: having breakfast with two small but quick-witted kids is just easier if you're sober.


Suzanne said...

Our society has only recently allowed us to remain childlike... or maybe teen like (late teens and early 20s when we're coming out of the angst funk)... well into adulthood. I think it's a good thing. More people are following their dreams and spending time figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Fewer people are thrust at a young age into soulless drudgery in order to support themselves and their families only to have a mid life crisis decades later.

I have the feeling the old style "adult" behavior and attitude was something forced on people from the outside.

Kristen said...


The other day I was at the grocery store and I saw a woman a few yards away whose "look" I admired. I even said to myself, "Man-oh-man, when I get to be her age, I'm going to look like that. That's how I want to look when I'm her age." I got closer and realized that she and I went to high school together. She is a year younger.

pat said...

Suzanne, welcome and thanks for the insights. I think what you're saying is the flip side of the fact that kids used to be considered just small people.
Kristen: Whoa. That's startling. I guess it creeps up on all of us. But also I think some people really age quicker--and that could be because of drugs, a hard life, too much Celine Dion or a combination of all of the above.