“I hate everyone younger than me,” proclaimed JP. Some kids had just thrown a snowball near us. Talking to him was kind of a drag, but we’d gotten off at the same train stop, and he lived a few blocks away from the liquor store where I was heading to work. I’d never known him well, but we’d grown up together in the neighborhood - he was probably 30, though if I didn’t know him, I would card him.
“I don’t go out of my way to do it. I’m not WC Fields, kicking crying babies or anything. I just mean I don’t respect kids, like, just cause everyone’s supposed to - these little giggling, fad billboards. I’m not like everyone else, yielding to youth culture and the children are the future crap. Everyone wants younger and younger. Screw that. You go on the Internet and it’s like guys our age should be dead in Internet Years. Like these kids know what they’re talking about.”
“Jesus. Fuck you,” he laughed. “They’ll come for you too, don’t worry.”
And he continued:
“I say Let em flick me off, flick me off the planet while they have the reign, if they have the reign. If not, fuck off.” He spit behind my shoulder and turned up his jacket collar as we rounded the corner into the wind.
“Thats the way of it though, right?”
I shrugged, not wanting to take his side, or argue. I thought a snowball to his dome would be funny, how outraged he’d be, his tiny fists would shake.
“Either you embrace the future generation and sit in your place, subliminally become a parent or a teacher or some sort of responsible figure, or you hate them with the same disdain as you felt adults carried towards you when you were a kid, a young punk… a little shithead. When I was a kid I hated everyone my own age too. They had nothing exciting to offer. The pettiest problems and the most trivial joys. I was such a fucking snob.”
He was proud of it, swallowing a smile inward that seemingly made his nostalgia burn bright enough to light his cigarette. I could smell the snob on him. As a kid, he knew exactly who he was, and didn’t shy from sticking that entitlement in your face if you were an adult. He corralled the whole world in front of him and sneered at it. There was definitely a sort of cruelty I remembered about him when we were younger that I found entertaining, and also a kind of neighborhood mythology because he had acted in commercials and got on Law & Order once too - a smart ass but smart as well, always had girls around him, younger girls - sooo cute, they’d say. He was ‘famous’ for a while, and he wore that, and then he was ‘supposed to be famous’ for a while, and that pose won out. His face never matured, just aged. There was tightness in the skin around his mouth now. There was no blossom. If it happened at all, it happened a long, long time ago.
His breath was moth shit.
As a kid I tended to those younger than me. In an Italian family, there’s always so many little cousins running around at every Sunday gathering. I was at the Kids table forever, airplane-spooning rigatonis into little slobbering mouths, waiting for a great aunt or some other to kick off so a plot of real estate at the Adult’s table would open up. I couldn’t act my own age if I tried, I had no idea how that felt. But when dinner would wind down, and I’d hear Devin’s cherokee roaring over the hill and honking, I’d run outside and jump in to a soft bake of weed cough and music blaring that was always new to me, and so sweetly insular. We all worked together at a snack bar at a country club over the summer, and they were 3 or 4 years older than me - Ritz and Webbs didn’t even finish high school, just dropped into the real world. I never thought about age when we hung out. I never thought about hate. I sat in the middle, passing things that came to me, listening, absorbing, staring out the window, all but forgotten really except for the simple fact that each night they always stopped for me on the way out to The Bluffs to get wrecked. Younger brother tagalong in golden smog was always the perfect age to be.
~from Issue #2 of Boot N’ Rally, my new 5-part serialized fiction/essays zine.
Check out the cover for Issue #1 here. Available now! Msg me if you’d like a copy. Super limited run. Distro may change in the future. $3 (for cost & shipping) or trade