HowTo:Be an adult
Attention sixth and seventh graders of North Claremont Middle School, please give a warm Claremont welcome to our guest speaker today, from the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Radek! Mrs. Haverville was sick today, so Mr. Radek here will be giving you the spiel. Today, he'll be giving an important lecture on what it means to be an adult. You are all growing young men and women, and in a few years you'll be in high school, and a few years after that you'll be seeking higher education, or entering the workforce. So knowing how to be an adult and how to be a respectable member of society is very important. I want to you all to pay close attention, and always stay safe. Say no to drugs!
Hi kids! As you know, I'm Mr. Radek, guest speaker from the American Enterprise Institute, it's a conservative think tank. It's one of the reasons why your teachers can't join a union. Ha. Well, being an adult means having personal responsibility, at least that's what the script says. Personal responsibility is just a term oligarchs use to cut funding from public services. It's meaningless. It's a buzzword. They control you. They control everything. Anyways, onto the speech.
An adult is someone who's reached an age where they're expected to know better. Can anyone here tell me what age that is? The age when you start to know better? Eighteen? I heard someone say twenty-one. Twenty-nine? Forty-three? Jesus Christ. Well, those were, for the most part, decent answers, but I'm hear to tell you that you are all wrong. There is no age. You're still insecure and filled with self-doubt, only now you have to go to work and pay taxes and know better, and after that you die. I'm going a little off script here kids, so bear with me.
Personal responsibility & maturity
The paper says, maturity and learning to be more responsible are important parts of growing up. Adulthood is defined by responsibility, and then there's more... self-control, pillar of the community, self-reliance, protestant work ethic, what the hell am I reading? I'm not Ronald Reagan. No, I'm gonna tell you a story about responsibility, about getting a job, that'll teach you all about how to be a responsible adult.
Learning responsible habits
My aunt didn't like that I spent all my time at home, I didn't even smoke weed or anything, I just had no friends. So she said, "Get a job you little shit. You're the reason why your mother killed herself. She didn't want anything tying her down and now I'm stuck with you. You get a job or I'll fucking kick you out you lazy faggot."
So I got a job working the fryers at a local chicken joint. You see the scars on my arms? You think I was in a house fire? No, that's from the oil leaping out of the fryers. They're scars of war. We brine the chicken pieces before we put them in the deep fryers, and all the saltwater makes the canola oil angry. It's physics right there. The physics of chicken.
I got fired three months later when they caught me sneaking some biscuits out. I don't even like biscuits, they make me gag. My aunt was the one who wanted them, she would hold a biscuit on one hand, and another biscuit on another, and then she'd just start alternating between the two until she finished eating. She didn't have the personal responsibility to control her voracious appetite. See what I did there?
So I got a job at the cafeteria at the community college a few blocks down, you'll probably go there when you're older. And do you know what the best selling item on the menu was? Chicken tenders and fries, $4.99, drink not included. There were long snaky lines of greasy haired acne faced land whales waiting to grab their chicken. I saw the fire in their eyes, and that fire was madness and lust for fried food. I was stuck dealing with another fryer, making chicken tenders for fat losers like you. Yeah, you, the fat guy three rows back sticking the pencil in his ear. Don't do that. Don't do that, that's not right.
They gave us big plastic bags with frozen chicken strips, and I'd open them up and dump the strips in the fryer for four minutes and something seconds. I got more scars when the oil splashed on me. And this wasn't canola oil, this was peanut oil; hardcore stuff, stains your clothes permanently. This scar, right on my elbow, was the worst, it's bigger than my thumb. I got it when I stepped on a frozen tender. I tripped and almost dipped my head in hot peanut oil. I saw my reflection in the peanut oil, and all I saw was fear. I look in the mirror and to this day I still have the same expression. Like the fear I had of dying never really left, but only now I'm afraid I've died on the inside. That I'm just a chicken tender, prettied up and breaded and glistening with peanut oil but on the insides I've been cooked till all the pink was gone, till nothing was left of me true and living, and I've simply been prepared in a vat and tossed out from a mesh-wire basket into a pan under a heat lamp.
Anyways, I hated my job, and the food wasn't even that good. The chicken got left under the heat lamps for so long it'd end up dry and chewy, like minced cardboard. But it didn't last forever. Eventually, I got my associate's degree in Personal Communications, and now I talk to little kids all over the country, giving out life lessons and advice. You see, the lesson to learn from my story is that being an adult means doing unpleasant things for little pay that end up scarring you for life, kind of like a prostitute. Exactly like a prostitute.
Adulthood through the ages
"Add charming anecdote about past childhood experiences, emphasize how today's generation has it better than yours, and explain how the audience should be grateful for all the opportunities available to them". Shit, I wasn't supposed to read that out loud. This sounds a lot like my aunt though. She was a lovely woman, but she had the bad habit of making you feel guilty over everything. And adults tend to do that with kids. Don't you hate it when your problems are discounted by people older than you? "Your car broke down? When I was your age, we had to use a horse and buggy," or "Your cellphone doesn't get any reception? If I didn't get a reception, it meant I was eloping!" or something funny like that.
My aunt did that too, she'd say things like, "You killed my sister! You killed her. I loved her and you killed her," or "You ruined my life, don't cry you bitch, why are you crying? Why are you crying? Shut up." Those were the days.
Opportunities for the future
The truth is, for people like you, there is no future. I mean, have you seen the charts? Have you done the research? Because if you did, you would know there's no future for people like you. All your parents lived in a time where a college degree all but guaranteed a job, but now, everyone's got a degree, I have a degree, the guy I saw cumming into a bush on my way home, he has a degree in Theoretical Mathematics. I can't image how smart someone's got to be to know about theoretical mathematics, and there he was, the smartest guy I know, hiding in a park making love to shrubbery. Everyone older than you has fucked up society for their own self-interest, and you'll be inheriting their mess, so don't let anyone tell you that you have it better just because phones or computers or Twitter exist. You are fucked.
You know how my father got a job? He drove his car through the wall of a Cheese Factory, he ran up naked to the foreman and just started screaming the word 'gumption' over and over. "Gumption, gumption, gumption, gumption, gumption. Gumption." That's all he said. That's all he needed to say. The police escorted him out, but the very next day he got a job overseeing a hundred other workers. Then he'd come home after an eight-hour workday cold and smelling of Gorgonzola, and mom would just give him a blowjob right there at the doorway. After that he'd eat his dinner, yell at his wife and call her a whore. And then he'd tell the kids to take his shoes off, all while mom's giving him another BJ. Then he went to sleep on the couch to the sound of his children crying after he belted them for looking funny. That's what they did. That's what your parents did.
You can't do that today. I tried to do that three years ago. I don't have a car, so I used a bicycle. I busted the front wheel and scraped my knee. I was a real prude so I only stripped down to my boxers, and I ran up to the reception desk and screamed, "Job, job, give me job. Job, job, job, job give please." They put me in jail. The opportunities that we had before, they're all gone.
And now these old fuckers make us pay for their retirement. You people won't be getting any social security, America will be an irradiated hellhole by the time you turn sixty-two. But they're living the high life on your future tax dollars and by the time the collapse comes they'll be chilling in their luxury coffins.
I'm glad that the American Enterprise Institute has given me the opportunity to speak to you for money, but most of you won't be so lucky. Look at the person to the right of you, according to statistics, you'll end up trying to kill that person over a can of Pork & Beans. Imagine the guy or girl next to you, look how nice and normal they are, and then imagine your teeth digging into their knee, you relishing the first taste of protein you've had in years. This is your future, this is what society's coming to, and you have to prepare.
I'm telling you, if you don't have at least six months worth of food and potable water, you might as well kill yourself right now. Save up your food, get a gun, get some ammo, put it in a basement or in a safe under the floorboards until the time comes. Just do it. You'll thank me later.
Developing personal relationships
You're all thirteen, fourteen, right? So I'm guessing you've already whored yourself out on the internet, had your lipstick parties and the weird orgies with the animal masks with your other whore friends by now. I mean, in my day—and yes I'm doing an "in my day" speech—we didn't whore ourselves out until we were at least fifteen. We had some standards, and we had the thin veneer of teenage discovery and exploring ourselves to justify in our minds the betrayal of all the values people in the past acted like they followed. But you people, you're more honest with your lizard-brain urges. I saw at least seven of you, sitting in the front row there, touching lips in the hallways, and all around you other students passed you by like schools of fish.
I went to the zoo once with my mother when I was a small boy, and I remember very distinctly the smell of rhino shit in the air. And I remember almost as clearly the sight of two bonobos going at it, while the other bonobos picked at the hairs on their back for pests they could eat. And I asked my mother what they were doing, and she said, "You'll find out when you're older."
And lots of hippies out there will wax and wane on the benefits of being a bonobo: "free love man! They don't have the arbitrary and prudish hangups we have about sex, they're all doing it for fun and love. If we were like the bonobos, we wouldn't have wars, we'd just be fucking. Out on the streets, in park benches, everywhere, cars would have to be outlawed from all the fucking going around." And I'd like to think we'd do a lot better if there was more love than war, but is life really about our base—what the hell, I'm in the middle of a speech here. Put your pants back on, that goes for both of you. Goddammit.
As I was saying, where was I? "Dedication and commitment to your goals in life, with a little vim and gumption, should guarantee"—no, no, that's not it. Why do I still have this thing? And turn the teleprompter off I'm not reading that shit.
Of course, being an adult also means being thrown out of any sense of comfort into a big pit of angry, miserable people who've also lost their way, who wander aimless, bored and useless as you do. You see them, waiting in line at Subway or at a bus stop fiddling with their phones, floating through grocery aisles with their heavy carts like there aren't fifteen other carts behind them. Everything you expect when you're a kid is going to get severed, and now as an adult you have to form new connections and new relationships.
You put two kids together in a room for thirty minutes and they'll be friends for life, I mean if you kept them in a room any longer you'd end up in jail, but the point is, for adults, relationships take time and commitment and aren't really all that worth it. That's why people want to be bonobos, not because they want to connect or be closer to people but because they want to distract themselves from the gnawing feeling that they can't relate to anyone except in the most primitive, shallow way possible. That's why I've spent at least a three hundred dollars over the past six months on painted ladies.
I pay this lady, her name is Shailene, to read me bedtime stories to lull me asleep, and I'd sleep next to her (and no sex stuff either) and wake up, see the sun in her hair and in her eyes and I'd think how lucky I am to have her, you know, the thoughts someone has when they're with someone they love, even though I paid her fifty dollars to tolerate me. And sometimes I paid her to complain about my bills.
"The electricity's too high! Stop changing the temperature on the thermostat so much! We can't pay the rent, we can't pay the utilities on time, you have to stop using up all the hot water, and don't keep the sink running while you're brushing your teeth!"
I gave her an extra twenty to complain about the toilet seat being left up, and I was wondering why she needed the extra twenty. I saw she was about to lick the lid clean but I said, "No, for Christ's sake, Shailene, I just want you to complain. Please don't throw away your dignity like this." I love her, I'm saving up enough money to save her from the Russian mob, then we're moving to Oregon. I've got everything planned out, but until then I'm talking to you folks for money.
Finding your inner strength
You know, life can be tough. Life really just means something that can replicate itself, so life isn't all that special, but life is still very hard. Life life life. What a nice word. You can use it to make anything sound profound, "Life is strange, life is happy, life is sad." None of what I said made any sense, but didn't you feel smart listening to that? Didn't it feel like you were privy to some secret knowledge no else on Earth had? That you could hold your head high armed with enough smarts to take everyone on? No? Fuck, I forgot the point I was going to make. Also, don't trust anyone who uses the word, "world". "The world" this, "the world" that, who the hell do they think they are? Pretentious, that's what they are.
As I said before, being an adult means becoming a prostitute. Whether that means you're selling your labor, your body, or your mind, you're going to be someone's bitch whether you want to or not. And most people can cope, but they don't cope in the right way: they distract themselves, like my aunt. She just ate biscuits all day till her heart gave out and she died, yelling at the television. I went to her funeral, and I swear I could see my mother next to the gravestone crying.
The best way to cope with the realization that you're just a tiny cog swimming in an ocean of mortality, a mote of dust that makes up a greater dust bunny of self-realization, is to close your eyes and imagine the borders of your body and mind disappear. Feel the bacteria living in your skin start to eat you alive, eat away at the muscle and the tendons, until they reach your bones, and they start to eat that too because they love eating. And when you open your eyes and you see the nothing you've become, the nothing that floats deep inside you and far above anywhere and everywhere soaring, don't be afraid, don't get scared. Some people see that as nihilism or fatalism but I see as acceptance of the truth. That all of us, tiny as we seem live not just as cogs but also as people stretched out into patches and made into giant quilts. And all of us together cover a space greater than one of us could.
Now as an exercise, I want all of you to take as much drugs as possible. Get into an altered state of mind, I can guarantee you that it'll blow everything you've done before away, just start popping all the pills you can find in your medicine cabinet, even huff some drain cleaner if you don't get the kick you like. You'll see what I'm talking about, you'll understand. You'll become a quilt. You will literally turn into a quilt. I've seen it happen.
Question & Answers
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Okay, that about wraps up my speech. Anyone here have any questions? You, two rows down with your hand up?
Question: I didn't understand anything you said, can we go home now?
Yeah, you can go home. But remember to always keep what I've said in mind, it's important that—
Question: Sorry I'm late, Principal—Who the hell is on stage... Mr. Radek? That's not... I'm Mr. Radek! Who the hell is on stage? Some lunatic crashed his bicycle into my car and now, wait... You're the guy on the bike! Security! Security!
That's a statement, not a question sir. Oh, shit, looks like I've got to go, let go of me you pigs—
Oh, dear. I mean in retrospect it seemed pretty obvious he wasn't the guy, and you don't have to tase him! Oh, dear, oh, dear, now he's, there's stuff coming out of his mouth. Campus security is brutal. Jesus Christ, kids, close your eyes. He's crying now, now they've got their boots on his face. This wasn't what I wanted at all. How cruel! Mr. Radek, the real one? Sorry, we're gonna have to reschedule you for next week the school district—no, we can't pay you for a speech you didn't give, I assure you—language, Mr. Radek! The other Radek made a very powerful speech, and I don't—fine, I understand, we will reschedule, you'll get your money. And remember, don't do drugs! If anything you kids should learn not to, oh my God! Now his teeth, they're everywhere, that's gonna leave a stain.
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