From May 20, 2004: Goose died for our sins

On the John

Goose died for our sins

Originally published in the Indiana Daily Student on May 20, 2004

Tom Cruise baby. Tom Cruise.
Scientology fiddlesticks. I miss Tom Cruise.

I was watching “Top Gun” about a week ago, and everything was going along fine, when all of a sudden we got to the scene in the locker room right after Maverick does the “fly by.”

Iceman walks up to him, stares him down, and tells him that “the enemy is dangerous, but you’re worse than the enemy. You’re dangerous and foolish.”

And as I listened to his speech and prepared myself for my standard angry-reaction-to-something-Iceman-said face, I found to my surprise that I wasn’t angry at all. In fact, I was in complete agreement. Maverick was worse than the enemy, and he was indeed both dangerous and foolish.

Ever since then, things haven’t really seemed the same. I feel older, and somehow more experienced, as if I now have the distinct advantage of viewing the world through an “Iceman’s right” lens. And yet all the while, I don’t entirely approve of a world that could let me, a healthy American boy, evolve into a person who agrees with Iceman, nor of a world that would expect all good, responsible adults to do the same.

However, despite this semi-new outlook on life, I still feel much younger than most people my age do, as far as I can tell. Nearly all of the conversations I’ve had with kids my age (adults my age?) over the past few months have concerned our plans for the future, and whether or not we had plans for the future and whether or not those plans were worthwhile plans for the future. So far my answers to the two whether-or-not’s have been “kind of” and “not really.”

At first I thought those answers would put me in some rather large company, as most people my age seem concerned with the future. But pry a little deeper and you find that their kind-of’s and not-really’s already involve a specific graduate school or job, while mine involve the non-descript living at home and traveling.

This kind of comparative preparedness has helped me retain my sense of youth, because the more I hear of people my age who have everything sorted out or are in the act of getting everything sorted out, the younger I feel.

But it’s not the fun, full of life, spring-in-my-step-and-full-of-pep kind of youthful feeling. This is more like the feeling of showing up to class on time only to find that no one’s there: you’re excited for a moment when you think there’s no class, but you can’t help but wonder if in fact there is class and you just don’t know where it’s being held.

And it is in this worrisome feeling that sometimes makes growing up scary. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the age. Like the saying goes, it’s just a number. The scary part comes from the expectations of aging. I’m not in any way worried about turning 23 in November; the worrying comes from being expected to accomplish whatever it is that 23-year-olds are expected to accomplish.

And what is that?

Well, maybe nothing. Maybe the world does not actually expect anything from 23-year-olds. Wouldn’t that be something? Maybe the world just expects them to make an honest effort to figure things out so that by the time they are 24, they can start to make a difference.

Iceman would probably disapprove of this attitude, and yet I feel like there’s something to it. I suppose the key is finding a middle ground. Like the saying goes, between Iceman and Maverick lies happiness.

Health Concern From the John: I get a sharp pain in my right ear whenever I eat really hot food, particularly pizza and chicken. Has this happened to anyone else?

Copyright 2004, jm silverstein


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