Monday, June 25, 2007

Sleepless in Manhattan

It's 3 Am. My son starts his summer job tomorrow and went to bed several hours ago, intending to be rested and calm on his first day. I pass the door and give that little automatic maternal listen...and I can hear him, through gritted teeth on his phone, sparring with that hellcat he doth protest to refuse to refer to as a girlfriend.

At 17 he swaggers around with this casual macho attitude he has constructed out of hip-hop, basketball, gangsta and a little bit of preppy/jock Polo mannequin thrown in. He has told me, on many occasions, that the way to control women is to treat them like shit, and they eat out of your hand. Or wherever it is they feed on these days, these quasi-anorexic over-styled girls with the $2,000 accessories, the perfect streaked hair, the make-up, the shoes, earbuds, sunglasses, cigarettes, vodka-tonics.They have taken old fashioned women's liberation to new levels and not only brag about their slutty behaviour but shamelessly use these teenage boys as platforms.

Even though he rarely communicates anything close to reality, in his tormented mental and hormonal limbo he occasionally forgets to close the chat-screen and I can see this little minx dropping remarks about who she's hooked up with and when. Her verbal tags are like a sharply manicured finger beckoning and my poor son is like a puppy with a remote chip in his brain from her cellphone. Every time she turns it on or texts, he turns over in his bed. His use of the air-conditioner is causing my electric bill to spike and I'd like to send it to the unknowing parents of this vampiress who think she is just an adorable girl. She turns off her light at night and gets A's while my poor demented boy is hanging on for life. His notebooks are filled with notes for emails written her, lists of clothing items to prick her fancy, plans. Things he will do that will impress her, cause her to fall into his exclusive arms forever. And why? So he can dump her. Because the other side of his tortured coin is that once this girl stops this act, he'll be bored. The sad, sad truth of it. Oh, we adults will protest and talk about relationships and mutual respect and values and our soulmates. But there is a reason the frigging Village Voice back pages--the ones which used to be endless club listings-- are now the printed legal red light district. Because we are all in mourning, somewhere, for the one that got away, for our lost obsessive quest for whatever it was that eluded us. The longing thing. We can look now-- we can look all over the place. Girls used to be arrested for wearing what is now standard fare. We can say penis and vagina on TV, we can look at soft and hard porn on our TVs, computers...whatever... but is the thrill gone? This stuff does it for some, but for most of us it was knowing how bad the guy was for us, the one that kept us from concentrating, from sleeping, from eating. From growing up.

Lap it up, I want to say to him. There will come a day when you will wonder where the passion went-- where some gorgeous thing will enter the room and you no longer have to console yourself with the thought that 'someone, somewhere is sick of his or her shit', because you are sick of the whole thing, and you go back to your mate or your cool empty bed and you think about the bills and whether or not you put the chain on the door. Or whether you should have given that guy in the bar your actual phone number. Just think, you could be lying in bed thinking about him. Longing.

There's always tomorrow.

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