29 Going On 15
I am twenty-nine years old. Most days it feels like I'm fifteen again.
Trust me; I'm not saying this to myself in a happy happy -- joy joy tone of voice. I'm not the creepy guy who's hanging out in the sixteen plus nightclubs and driving a rusted out '84 T-bird blasting "Sweet Home Alabama". Not that I don't turn up Skynard when I get a chance -- I like that song. I just don't have an '84 T-bird -- and I'm not allowed to go to nightclubs. Which brings me back to my point. Right now, I am figuratively the guy who's living with Mom, spending a thrilling Friday night scrap booking and trimming her toenails with a DeWalt disc grinder. Not cool. Not much choice in the matter but not cool. Let me clarify. Let's all shut our eyes and take a little magical trip down the rabbit hole to bright, sunny, non-Iraq war 1994.
I'm fifteen years old. I like hockey, video games, picking on my little brother and annoying my older one. I started drinking this past summer so I'm starting to chaff under the lax rules of my Blessed Saint of a mother. (Who, I'm sure, does not actually need a disc grinder to keep her toenails up to Stepdad's exacting standards.) "What do you mean I have to get home before dawn?" "I can't come home drunk and fall asleep with a pizza baking in the oven?" "Are you crazy -- I can't live under these Nazi Germany strictures?" You get the drift.
I'm also feeling the pinch of having to go to the 1st Bank of Parental Oversight every time I need some cash to buy some stuff that I absolutely do not need. I need a job; a working man has it easy -- no cash crunch, independence, respect.
Thus, I hit the bricks looking for work. I never put much thought into how hard it would be to find work when I was not legally able to work in the state of Minnesota, I just went job searching, and job searching, and job searching. "You're too young to work here." "You don't have any experience." "Get the hell away from the rose bushes you damn hooligan." I tried everything. The newspaper, neighbors, whoever I thought would give me a job. The week or two I spent struggling with unemployment weighed my naïve teenage body down like a Latin bellhop at a fancy Miami hotel bent under the mountain of Paris Hilton's weekend luggage. Would I never become gainfully employed? I saw myself at forty, living under the nearby Sauk River bridge, scratching at backdoors of local houses to beg for scraps. Finally, I worked my way down to the strip mall two blocks down from the house to beg for work at the local diner. What an ordeal! Fill out an application, interview, wait to be called back! Are you people insane -- don't you know who I am!! Just give me a job already! Surprisingly, they did. The job didn't last long, less than a month. It turns out getting paid five dollars an hour to wash dishes for a creepy lady who looked way too much like Cruella DeVille was not as glamorous as I had imagined.
My currant situation resembles my early teen prisoner-of-war living conditions and thousand-year job search. It resembles it way to much for my taste. I live in a place where I am constantly being nagged. "Where are you going?" "What did you do today?" "Why do you need to go there?" "Who are you hanging out with?" "Are you brushing you teeth in small counterclockwise circles at least three times a day?" I am sometimes followed to see if I'm actually going where I said. This week I will be tagged with a GPS locator like an endangered species at a game park. (Thank God, they didn't have GPS when I was fifteen -- Mom probably would have had me on three of them.) I've applied for thirty-four jobs in the last three weeks. I've been rejected from eight of them, not contacted from over twenty, and am waiting a few days before I call or email back to be rejected or not contacted from the rest. "You don't have enough experience." "We don't accept people with you're type of background." "Get out of here before we call the large men with guns to get rid of you."
It has not been fun. I'm entirely conscious of the fact that I put myself into this situation, but it still creeps me out. I feel like I should be figuring out who I want to ask to the SnowBall dance rather than figuring out how I'm ever going to afford car insurance, rent, and tuition for art school. Hopefully, this will end soon -- it's way to creepy.