Now that I'm on my own in Manhattan, it has become very evident that there is an insurmountable difference between my approach to life and the one that my parents think I should have. The folks, for example, maintain that the perfect compliment to my recent move would be a "job." I've countered that, with all the stress I face just walking to and from the corner grocery store in such a hectic city, it makes much more sense to devote the remainder of my time to being completely sessile. Inactivity, after all, is essential to be a "struggling writer." And, having just gotten digital cable, I figure that since I'm not going to be able to pay for it, I might as well take advantage before it's gone.
Now, I concede that the whole "get a job" incident is just a single example. However, I feel that it illustrates a point: my parents, inexplicably clinging to their old school ways, are unfit to offer sound advice for something like a transition to a city like New York. But that doesn't mean they won't try. From what I can tell, the responsibilities have been divided up logically, with Mom taking on the "'hygiene and comfort' front while Pops imparts his knowledge of business etiquette through a series of grunts and pointed criticisms.
Mom dove headlong into her role the second she stepped foot into my apartment. Admittedly, I can see some of her points for example, I agree that my room could use some windows, locking doors, a floor not sloped thirty-degrees, natural light and a loft made of something beside balsa wood, popsicle sticks and scotch tape. Some manner of ventilation for fresh air flow would also be nice. I'll take any sort, really; a direct connection to a smokestack would provide even a slight degree of oxygenical relief, unlike the cloud of Mercury's atmosphere that has settled in around my bed. So yes, Mom may have a point when she says that my room is far from inhabitable, much less desirable. But hey, my rent could really only finance two brand new BMWs, so I figure that my hard unearned lack of money is being somewhat well-spent.
It's over more obscure matters, such as my lack of clothes and / or soap, that the fists really fly. I've never seen a need for multiple pairs of jeans. In their classic role jeans were meant to be worn and destroyed, and I aspire to keep that tradition alive by having only a single pair of "respectable jeans" at any one time. That they get washed once a month seems appropriate and does not bother me. Strangely, it does bother Mom, particularly when she finds colonies of bacteria on the inside of my pant legs. "Mom," I always reassure her, "I shower sometimes." She then cries, and further weakens my understanding of women.
Meanwhile, to refine my coarse business skills, Pops employs an instructional system that I've dubbed "reverse encouragement," in which he calmly establishes that all of my ideas are very bad. The system is simple and absolutely ineffective: I present Pops with a humor-laced, yet carefully crafted, cover letter. Automatically and by this point, I assume, unconsciously he gives me "that look." The cover letter will then be stripped of all traces of identity or personality, ultimately leaving it as a single statement: "Neil is punctual." Then I'm reminded not to wear mesh shorts to an interview and that a suit is an absolute necessity at all times. In fact, I should be sleeping in my suit, just in case an employer calls at five a.m. from my living room to demand an interview. This has had a profound effect on my REM sleep, as the suit becomes offensively unbearable when worn inside my mattress's poisonous shield of scalding air.
Eventually, all it really took was one suit-clad interview in an office teeming with a jeans-and-sandals editorial board to realize that my parents simply have no clue what they're talking about. Who needs "fresh air," "natural light" and "flat floors" to live comfortably? I may go berserk in my dark, dank and crooked cave, but as long as I have the sweet smell of urine wafting over from the homeless shelter next door, I'm content. And who needs good resumes, cover letters and references when you can have bad resumes, cover letters and references and still . . . gah. Point is, I've almost matured, and finally find myself in a position in which I can survive without relying on the wisdom and assistance of my parents. I've developed those skills necessary to competently and confidently live a struggling life, and I'm going to use this independence to reach unprecedented levels of dominance, near-comfort and convention-defiance.
Providing that my parents say it's ok.