Monday, February 23, 2009

One year older and wiser, too

Recently I turned 27 and it made me angry. And not just annoyed or irritated. I was livid. I was hostile. People were wishing me happy birthday, but I was ready to punch somebody.

Why? First, I’m not sure what I have to show for my 27 years of life. I’m 27, but I’m still in college and still live in a crappy apartment and still have weird and often creepy roommates. I have a cool but low-paying job and don’t have health insurance and live paycheck to paycheck. It feels like I should’ve accomplished so much more by now. Sometimes I remember being 18 and I’m pretty sure that at age 18 I never imagined my 27-year-old self being single, eating ramen noodles and still in college. I think my 18-year-old self would be severely disappointed in my 27-year-old self.

Second, I’m afraid all of my good times are behind me. I’m about to graduate college, which means I get to start working for the rest of my life. I even tried put off the real world for a few years by going to graduate school, but the real world still caught up with me.

Third, I’m afraid of looking old. Call me vain all you want, but don’t kid yourself. Nobody wants to look old. I found my first gray hair on the eve of my 25th birthday, although I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time. I just yanked it out and that was that. I thought it was over, but pretty soon a few of that gray hair’s friends came looking for it. Then the other day a person asked me if I had kids. Do I look old enough to have kids? I hope not. I’m not old enough to have kids. I’m still a child myself, ask anyone. Just because all my friends are reproducing like rabbits (or some other mammal/insect/crustacean that reproduces a lot) doesn’t mean I’m going to. Maybe I just look old, although the other day someone asked me if I was over 21 and I could’ve kissed her.

But there definitely are some advantages to getting older. Getting older has it’s drawbacks, sure, but I am definitely wiser for it. I see my friends a couple of years younger than I am making all sorts of stupid mistakes and saying all sorts of stupid things and I just kick back and pretend like I never did or said anything like that.

27-year-old Jesse has just learned a lot over the years and has become a 100 percent cooler guy. I remember 21-year-old Jesse and think, “I wouldn’t even want to be around that dude.” And I don’t even want to talk about 19-year-old Jesse.

The best part of getting older is I am through being cool. I am who I am, and suckers better just deal with it. Each year I care less and less about what other people think. It is a good feeling.

And sometimes people younger than me have even come to me for advice! Advice! From me! I just say, “Well, when I was your age I just…” and make some crap up, and sometimes throw in a quote from Abraham Lincoln or Shakespeare for good measure. When it first started I would laugh and laugh, but then I realized that people I have asked for advice growing up probably did the same thing to me.

I guess that is the essence of growing up: getting good at faking it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Organ Mountain Death March

OK, here it is: I’m afraid of heights. And clowns. And cats and shag carpet and fast food. But my absolute scariest fear is that of being hopelessly lost in the wilderness and dying there.

So a group of my friends and I, all male, decided to hike to the top of the Organ mountains here in Las Cruces. We set out early in the day and hiked up the mountain without incident. Everyone got to the top and celebrated by taking pictures of themselves flexing their muscles while standing on the peak. Then we ate some trail mix, drank out of our canteens and headed back down.

Somewhere the hike down became a testosterone-fueled contest to see who could get to the bottom first. I wasn’t interested in winning any manliness contests, but, as I’ve mentioned, I’m scared to death of getting lost, so I tried to keep up.

Pretty soon the pack had thinned out. One guy was way far ahead of me and seven other guys were way far behind me. I was all alone. After about 10 minutes, I realized I had lost the trail and was getting more lost with every step I took.

Right about then I lost my footing and started rolling down the mountain. When I wasn’t watching my life flash before my eyes or making peace with God, I marveled at how easily, efficiently and expeditiously a human being can roll down a mountain. Just when I had accepted the fact that I was pretty much going to roll forever (or at least until I ran out of mountain) my death roll was mercifully stopped… by the spiniest cactus found in nature.

Vulgar words filled the mountain air as I got painfully to my feet and looked for my friends. I couldn’t see them, even though I thought I had made good time while I was rolling. I yelled and yelled for my friend who was ahead of me, and finally a reluctant response drifted up the mountain: “What do you want? I’m winning.”

“I think I’m lost,” I yelled. “Okay, actually I know I’m lost. No doubt about it.”

“Oh, all right. I’ll help you,” came the less-than-comforting reply. “I still win, though.”

Soon we were back on the trail together, and my friend proceeded to tell me why he was so good at hiking.

“The outdoors are like a good book,” he philosophized. “You just read it a lot and then you start to understand it. I love the outdoors and the outdoors loves me. I speak to the trail, and it tells me where it’s going.”

About a minute later we were hopelessly lost.

“We’re lost,” my friend said. “But I can find the way back. I’m an outdoorsman. That means I like the outdoors. In fact, I was born outdoors.”

“No you weren’t! You were born in a hospital!” I challenged.

“Well, yeah. But when my head started to come out my mom excused herself from the delivery room and had me outside. She loves the outdoors too, you know.”

“Lies! Get her on the phone. I want to hear the story.”

“Oh, look. No reception.”

My friend then decided that the only way to get back on the trail was to wade through a huge ravine filled with cactuses and waist-high thorn bushes. Eventually we made it to the base of the mountains where we had parked. We looked like we had been mauled by an angry pack of stray cats, but we made it. I quickly climbed into the truck and locked my friend out.

“You like the outdoors so much,” I said through the glass, “why don’t you just stay out there?”

Monday, February 9, 2009

Jesse "waxes" philosophical about Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day approaching I’ve heard mutterings from some of my fellow single people, mutterings like “I hate ‘Single Awareness Day,’” or “Valentine’s Day sucks.” I don’t think that way, and neither should anyone else.

Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day is overrated. And in my experience, so are girlfriends. To be fair, I’m guessing there are some folks who think that boyfriends are overrated, too.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, but facts are facts, people. On Valentine’s Day, what are single people really missing? A tacky card? Some funky chocolates in a heart shaped box? Some flowers that will get all wilty within a day or two?

Frankly, I can do without.

I propose that bitter single people need to quit with this “Single’s Awareness Day Oh Poor Me” rubbish because, contrary to their whining, Valentine’s Day is easily the best day in the calendar year to be single. Why? Guess how much I spent on Valentine’s Day gifts this year? With sales tax plus shipping and handling, it came out to be roughly zero dollars and zero cents. And do you know how much I spent on a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant? Well, if you include a tip and dessert, my check came out to approximately zero dollars and zero cents.

So now I can take all the money I saved by being single on Valentine’s Day, buy a bucket of chicken and a six-pack of Yoo-Hoo chocolate flavored water, go to the video store and rent Star Wars I through VI and still have money left over. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

So what if Valentine’s Day reminds you that you are single? That’s not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, I’d say there are some definite perks to being single. I’m not saying being single is better than being in a relationship/married/partnered/trapped. It’s just different.

So here are the top three perks, according to me:

First, I get to buy stuff without asking anyone else for permission. I never realized how nice this was until I hung out with some married people a few weeks ago. We went out for lunch and when we were ordering they were like, “It’s our money now, so is it alright if I get a burger, baby? Is it alright if I get cheese? Baby, can I get fries, too? Actually, honey, are onion rings in the budget?”

When it was my turn I just walked right up to the counter and ordered everything, super-sized it and got a frosty too, just because I could.

Second, I don’t share a bed with anyone, so I can sleep however I want. I can use maximum mattress space, drool and take 100 percent of the covers and no one will say a word to me.

And most important of all, I get to be rational. It’s a well known fact that people in love don’t act rationally. Take the Jason Mraz love song, “I’m Yours.” In it old Jason sings, “Scooch on over closer, dear, and I will nibble your ear.” A rational person would never do something as unsanitary as nibbling a human ear. That is a wax-producing organ! You wouldn’t nibble a candle or a crayon would you? And an ear is even grosser because it’s not candle or crayon wax. It’s, like, people wax, man! Gross! I get all lightheaded even thinking about it.

So you can mourn “Single Awareness Day” all you want, but as for me I will be celebrating “Valentine’s Day” all by my single self and loving it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The masked super hero they call "Guilty Pleasure Man"

In life we often have mind-blowing experiences, experiences where our perceptions on life and the universe totally change. But I never expected my mind to be blown at the self-serve car wash.

But that's exactly what happened. When I pulled up, the only open spot was next to some pimped out Impala with flashy rims. Call it stereotyping, but the guy waxing it looked a little bit gang affiliated. I say this because he had on a bandana, sunglasses and a bunch of jewelry. He was also covered in tattoos. By “covered” I mean that, with the exception of his face, all his visible skin was covered with intimidating tattoos, like dragons, devils and naked women. They were even on places like his head, Adam’s apple and knuckles, all areas that had to have hurt like a high school heartbreak to get inked. I also think he had done steroids or lifted a lot of weights in prison or something because he was huge.

Hopefully I’ve established the fact that this dude was hardcore. And we’re not talking white wannabe gangster, either. This guy was a bona fide, hustlin’, real deal gangsta.

So needless to say I was a little bit intimidated as I parked next to him and started vacuuming my Geo Prizm. He had an iPod on the passenger seat that was pumping gangsta music through the loudest car stereo system I have ever heard in my life. It made the ground shake. It rattled the fillings out of my teeth.

But his iPod must’ve been on shuffle because after about three or four thuggish gangsta songs a Hootie and the Blowfish song came on! No joke!

I looked up from my vacuuming in disbelief and the dude was scrambling for his iPod. He quickly changed songs and caught me looking at him. He gave me a look that I interpreted to mean: “I have a 9mm under my seat that says you didn’t hear anything.”

So I went back to my vacuuming and I am still alive to tell the tale, although I have to believe that when he is all alone that guy probably listens to Hootie and sings right along. I can just picture him belting out, “Hooooooooooooooooooold my hand.”

This logically brings me to the topic of super powers. Yes, super powers. Like when people ask each other stupid “get-to-know-you” questions like, “If you had a super power, what would it be?” I never used to know how to answer that question, but now I do:

I would be able to telepathically know people’s guilty pleasures.

Think of it! I could blackmail so many people, like, “You better give me that sandwich or I’ll tell the world that you own all four seasons of The O.C. on DVD and that you’ve seen Spice World 32 times.”

I could deflate snotty hipsters in a single bound, like, “You say your favorite band is Vampire Weekend, what about all those Nickelback CDs in your glove box? Hmmm? You rock those ridiculously tight jeans pretty well, but what about that signed New Kids On The Block reunion tour t-shirt you have hidden in the back of your closet?”

And of course, all my guilty pleasures would all be shielded from ridicule and automatically become hip. That is an essential part of the Guilty Pleasure Super Power.

That would mean I wouldn't have to listen to Lady Gaga really quiet in my room with the door locked anymore.