My Aunt (by marriage) recently asked me to "have a talk" with her son, my cousin Junior. He's flunked out of college, hasn't even bothered to look for work and has started smoking pot- a lot of pot.
Perhaps, my Aunt suggested, I could talk to Junior and convince him how important education is and let him know what his uneducated future holds: "...a life-time of dead-end jobs, no respect, no future, no property, no family or the ability to support one..."
"Whoa," I interrupted, " you want me to tell Junior that if he doesn't get his shit together, he will eventually wind up in circumstances like mine: a 42-year-old failure with no real prospects for achieving success, happiness or anything of real merit, ever. In other words, you don't want him to be a lost cause like me."
I was more than a little bit hurt, resentful and angry with her bleak assessment of my life. I am suddenly an anti-role model.
"Well...", she hedged, " I didn't mean....it's just that...well...", she gestured around my tiny, cluttered bachelor apartment, "...you know. You don't have things..."
"I have enough things. I do need to ask a few questions before I talk to him."
"Why don't you just kick him out? He's 20. Toss him out."
"I can't. It would break my heart...plus his (deceased) biological father left him a lot of money. He really doesn't have to work...but it'll run out after a few years at the rate he's spending it."
"Oh...hmmm. What's his passion? Hobbies? Is he still practicing guitar? Is there anything he really grooves on? Art? Cars? Writing? Sports? Drama? It doesn't matter if he's any good at it, but he has to be into it."
"Nothing. He gets high and he shoplifts. Next time he gets busted , his trial will be as an adult."
Fuck. My plan is already shot...I can't imagine being 20 and having no passionate interests. My idea was to find out what he's really into, give him some good criticism and remind him that I once had a decent shot (as good as anyone else, anyway) at "making it" in the music business, but my obsessive passions for writing and playing music were weakened, poisoned, ignored and eventually replaced by chemical addictions of a lethal, boring and expensive sort.
I was going to advise Junior to follow his dream, but to do it sober. There will be plenty of time to get high after he gets rich and famous...just ask Mike Phelps.
But Junior has no stated dream. I'm hoping that he has one and that he just might be unwilling to tell his Mom, fearing her disapproval. We'll see.
In any case, I'm a bit miffed at having my life held as a "cautionary tale" and having myself used as an example of failure, so I'm writing a speech for Junior. What to say?
Ya know what? I'm not so bad.
If Junior grows up to "like me", I'm OK with that. I just want to know what he wants to do , is all.
I hope his mother understands.
To Be Continued At Some Point