In this month’s Marie Claire was a short article (very short) about Grandpa Crushes. Everyone has them! They’re the new miniature-Chihuahua-in-a-purse. (Which, speaking of purses, and for those of you hoping to quickly familiarize yourselves with Marie Claire’s editorial position, another of their “articles” featured a candy-colored array of alligator-skin Gucci clutches that ended, “Get this fall’s hottest accessory, and you’ll find yourself swamped with invitations!” Other possible puns I am thinking of include: “Buy this bag, or everyone will think you’re a real stick in the mud!” “You might have to leech money from your boyfriend to afford it, but you won’t want to be without this season’s cutest new accessory!” “These lovely handbags will make you squeal like a pig!”)
Grandpa Crushes are, and I can’t imagine why I have to explain this to you, crushes that younger women (in their 20s, possibly 30s) get on older dudes. You know … Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Brian Dennehy. I love Brian Dennehy! And someday I will meet him, and then I will slice open his belly and use his rich, creamy center as a delicious, salty breakfast spread.
I cannot wait.
Like all fine journalism, the piece sparked a conversation in our household, namely: Does Rich Bachelor have a Grandma Crush? After a few moments of consideration, actress/predatory insect Joan Allen was mentioned. I have a good 80 pounds on her, and am nearly 20 years her junior. I feel confident that Brian Dennehy and I will be able to administer a grandfatherly ass-whoopin’ to Rich and his new lover, if we ever run into them at a nightclub or in the nursing center.
Anyway, it’s nearly Labor Day, which means … well, a bunch of things, really. A day off work, the summer ending. My birthday (which is, of course, the reason I’m thinking about grandma crushes—hoping that someday very soon I can take the lovely Miss Allen’s place in the retirement home of Rich’s heart). Ahh, I know: reflections about work. As someone who’s only recently rejoined the work force, I have a few thoughts on the daily grind, the salt mills, the shit plants that occupy such a monolithic place in the popular imagination. Oh, working was fun the first few weeks, and now it’s gotten to be kind of a routine, something that keeps me from the drink until, at least, 4:30 or so, but it’s hardly a way to live.
My first thoughts on adult working life (and many other facts of adultishhood) were formed by Lloyd Dobler, of course. Who can forget:
“I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.”
You hear that as a 16-year-old, and it’s like, Yeah! Because buying and selling and processing are lame, man. That’s what The Man wants you to do. And it’s boring. It’s like, why buy and sell and process things when you could, you know, dance and sing and create and think? And saying that you don’t want to do any of these things, above all else, is tantamount to saying that you don’t want to work—that you are above work—because what could you even do as work if you didn’t buy or sell or process anything?
Well, quite a bit, actually. Lots of crap work, like, perhaps, computer programming, caring for squalling babes in a daycare center, doing pedicures for rich bitches, title examining, cleaning hotel rooms—whereas one can think of loads of perfectly adequate jobs (photographer, for example, where part of one’s labor literally is processing) in which one buys, sells or processes (or repairs, which Lloyd is, for no reason that I can remember, also against), and which don’t destroy one’s soul—at least not any more than any other form of labor.
The thing that struck me the most, though, in hearing that out-of-context piece of dialogue, was the needless repetition of it: “I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed.” Well, if you don’t want to buy anything as a career, I suppose one might assume that you don’t want to buy anything that’s been bought or sold or processed, yes. The larger includes the smaller, and it always has, Lloyd. I imagine a much longer monologue, in which Lloyd patiently explains to us that not only does her not want to sell anything at all, but he doesn’t want to sell anything bought, sold, processed, unprocessed, grown out of the soil (either organic or not), made of iron or copper or bacon fat, with a grainy consistency, pickled, covered in fireants, produced by sweatshop labor, shaped like a doughnut, licked by a puppy, filled with cheese, purple, or cold to the touch.
What I take away from this quick peek into Lloyd Dobler’s soul, is that Lloyd Dobler sucked, and that we (by which I mean, I think, mostly women in their 30s, but probably anyone who thought Lloyd Dobler was pretty cool at the time, and definitely anyone who, for example, lists on their MySpace page Lloyd Dobler as the person they want to meet) were very, very stupid for paying any attention to him. At the most generous reading, we’re left with this: What’s that? You don’t want to work a conventionally acceptable job? Well, sir, perhaps you might like to be introduced to the whole goddamn human race, who, despite their myriad differences and disagreements, have all come together to admit that you are right on this one.
I forget if I’ve mentioned this, but my job? Kinda sucks. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s also kind of okay. It’s interesting in all sorts of ways that no one—none of you civilians, anyway—really gets. Examining title, if nothing else, offers a skeletal history, of a region, a neighborhood, a family. You see who divorced who, who married who, who died and owning what. You see the Johnsons and the Browns move out and the Nguyens and the Trans move in. Right now, what you see a lot of are foreclosures. Things falling apart. People who bought property a year ago already having defaulted on their property taxes and their mortgages. It doesn’t take that much imagination to create a human story behind the records—the nervousness and hope in the beginning, seeing everything tumble out of control only a few months in. You see things like a $600 tax bill gone unpaid. My first thought: Why buy a house if you don’t have at least $600 in the bank? But what’s really happening, I suspect, is that if the mortgage is two months late and the car is being repossessed and there’s already one supplemental tax bill for $3,000 that you can’t pay, the $600 bill just goes in the drawer with the rest of ‘em.
Everyone knows this already, though. The news community is going nuts with talk about how everything’s going to shit, thanks to the sub-prime lenders. I assume that, like always, it’s not going to be as bad as it really should be, and somehow we’ll be saved from ourselves—someone’s bound to offer up a Band-Aid to put over this big, infected mess of a credit system, right? What I really wanted to talk about was Lloyd Dobler, who is, actually, a pretty good metaphor for all the stupid shit we Americans are always being asked to buy into and are subsequently begging for the chance to buy into, just a little bit, just once more, please. Which is why we get stuck with both foreclosures and Must Love Dogs, if that makes any sense.
Have a good long weekend anyway, before this all falls apart.