Tuesday, February 21, 2012


They seem to be connected, though I cannot imagine a process that would cause that to be the case.

We will begin with this:

I am now sixty-seven years old. And I still do not feel like a grownup.

Does anybody identify with that? And by “anybody” I mean men. All women are grownups. With the onset of puberty, biological realties come flying at them, which they can neither duck nor avoid. And at some point, a goodly number of them experience childbirth, pushing out babies, which have been – like it’s a normal thing, because, for women, it is – incubating inside their bodies.

Such eventualities automatically propel women into the “grownup” category. Though disagreements on this point are welcome. I could be wrong, having no direct experience in the matter myself.

I will not go into detail, at least not on this outing, about why I do not feel like a grownup, and how not feeling like a grownup manifests itself in my daily life. I will, however, offer one recent example of my feeling like I’m six.

The California state tax office (known as the “Franchise Tax Board”) has determined that those required to make quarterly estimated tax payments must now make those payments online. (Rather than by the previous method of sending a check in the mail, their rationale being, I’ve been told, that the Franchise Tax Board does not trust the United States Postal Service to insure that that check will ever arrive.)

I cannot tell you the amount of tremor and trepidation the online submission requirement triggered in my, psychologically at least, six year-old body.

“What if I do it wrong?”

(Big people are going to yell at me.)

And, in fact, despite my and my assisting daughter’s best efforts to comply, we did subsequently receive a “Dishonored Payment Notice”, indicating that we had done something wrong, and would now be subjected to an as yet unspecified penalty.

In turns out that we had not done anything wrong. The problem was that the “routing number” which we were required to provide, a number, we were instructed, could be found at the bottom of my checks, turned out to be a different “routing number” than the “routing number” our bank uses for electronic money transfers. (Something our bank had omitted to tell us.)

This inappropriate “routing number” (my head hurts every time I say “routing number”) led to the rejection of our submission, which generated the subsequent “Dishonored Payment Notice.” (And the as yet unspecified penalty.)

Though we had followed the instructions we were given to perfection, I was nonetheless now faced with the hyperventilatingly inducing prospect of calling the “Franchise Tax Board”, to explain to them why the error had occurred, assertively indicating that it was not our fault, and demanding that the penalty assessment be removed.

Psychological six year-olds cannot “assertively indicate” anything. Nor can they “demand.” Psychological six year-olds can only whimper, crumbling at the first sign of authoritarian resistance.

The “Franchise Tax Board” officials are authority figures. They most likely have badges. They are not listening to a child. Or an adult with childlike proclivities. (Which may make me an interesting writer, but are useless in the current situation.)

I did not call the “Franchise Tax Board.” I instead called my accountant, Don, hoping that he’d call them for me. My accountant, Don, perhaps himself afraid of the “Franchise Tax Board”, or, more likely, simply more experienced in these matters, advised me to simply resubmit my online tax payment, and that we would deal with the penalty issue when it arises.

In the end, I did not have to call those scary government people. However, with no small amount of anxiety, I resubmitted this second effort at an online tax payment alone, with no help from my daughter, who was, on this occasion, too busy to assist.

I await the letter informing me that I messed up again.

Okay, so back to the beginning.

It is my observation that the arrested development in men, initiated in my generation – possibly due to the fact that we stopped wearing fedoras – has infected the generation that came after, to the effect that the lack of maturity now reflects itself in their very physiognomy.

To me, at least – and it could simply be that I’m older than they are – the next generation of men do not look, in their appearance, in any way,

Grown up.

We will take as evidence – because they are the most visible examples – male movie stars.

Think about it. Do any of these guys look grown up to you?

Tom Cruise

Matt Damon

Leonardo DeCaprio

Brad Pitt

Johnny Depp (What kind of grownup is called “Johnny”?)

Matthew Broderick

Tom Hanks (Really.)

Vince Vaughn

Owen Wilson

Adam Sandler

Chris Rock

To name just eleven.

Really. Do any of these guys look like actual adult people?

What’s goin’ on?

Has male infantilism so suffused their natures that now, not only do men not mature emotionally, their faces don’t grow up either?

Movie stars used to be onscreen role models, instructing us on how the adult version of our gender is supposed to behave.

What can you learn from grown up children?

I need a modeling mentor, someone who will demonstrate how to stand tall before the “Franchise Tax Board.”

And it turns out, there’s nowhere to find one.


sean said...

I am 40 and when I was a teen, I used to think males in their 20's were MEN, with jobs, lives, CACHE. And they used to be. Even as late as the 1980's,any MAN in their 20's seen riding a skateboard, anywhere, at any time, would have been locked up. Now....?

PG said...

You can make a similar case about actresses. Vivian Leigh was only 28 when she played Scarlett and Marilyn died in her mid-thirties. Can you name any actresses in this age range today who are as 'womanly' as they were?
In general, we've all gone to the dogs (no offense to those magnificent specimens at the Westminster). In my profession, teachers have abandoned suits and ties, skirts and high heels, for shlumpy sweatsuits, jeans and the occasional Lululemon.
Don't get me started about the preferred attire for the theatre or symphony these days. Who is actually wearing all the glamorous outfits we see in magazines and where, exactly, are they wearing them? I'm not seeing them.
We are all 'infantilized' when it comes to appearances.
For example, will someone please tell Hilary that the appropriate time for a long, blonde 'flip' was THE 70's, not her seventies!

Moopot said...

I agree with you that most of those stars do look like children (although Johnny Depp doesn't look like any child I've ever met,) but these man-children aren't any different from previous stars. In what way does Jimmy Stewart not look like a six year old boy? Or Don Ameche? Or Laurel & Hardy, Lou Costello, Chico Marx, Mickey Rooney, Tom Ewell, Jack Lemon, Robert Redford or Harold Lloyd?

Moopot said...
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