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Single White Nerd: Towards Adulthood, Kicking and Screaming


a blogumn by Michael Kass

On Friday I received an email from a friend asking that I consider being a godparent to their shiny new son. My First Reaction: someone hacked her email account. My Second Reaction, after realizing that spamming someone’s contacts with requests to become a godparent after going through all the trouble to hack the account would be stupid: Why me?

I mean, I’m not a bad guy. But I’m terrible at interpersonal relationships, in some ways so immature as to be completely non-functional. I let parking tickets pile up. I forget my parents’ birthdays. Sometimes my utility bills go unpaid, dishes sit unwashed in the sink, trash accumulates in the Trader Joe’s bags I use as garbage pails. These are not role-model worthy characteristics.

As the question of “why” tumbled itself over in my head, a pattern revealed itself. A tapestry. A conspiracy. My friends have been conspiring to turn me into a responsible “adult” for years!

Example: A few years ago, my unpaid utility bill problem lead to a disconnection of my gas problem. This did not overly concern me. I had a microwave and a toaster oven. Why did I need gas? Then one day I logged into my email to find a message from me to 15 people.

“Hi Friends,” said this message, “I’m super excited to host our upcoming book club meeting. My apartment will be clean and I’m thrilled to say that my gas, necessary for cooking, will be turned on. I didn’t pay my bills so they turned it off. But I will resolve this issue by the time of book club so we don’t have to eat microwave pepper steak. Which is gross. . .Love, Michael.”

I read this message ten times, getting increasingly panicked with each read. Had my mental state really degraded to such an extent that I could not even remember sending out an email?

I mean, it certainly sounded like something I would write. . .then it hit me. My friends had hacked my email. Their gentle exhortations to get my gas turned back on had failed, so they had resorted to altruistic identity theft. Bastards!

But I got the gas turned on in time for the book club. And I’ve been paying my utility bills reasonably on time ever since.

Example: Just before moving to Los Angeles, I started dating a girl. I liked her quite a bit. We spent a couple of nights on my futon before she fixed me with a powerful look and said “You need to get a bed or I’m not coming over any more.” How dare she? Why would she try to change me like that? I was the guy who slept on a futon. It was part of my identity! I resolved right then and there to not give up the futon so easily.

The next day I went out to buy a bed. And the back pain I’d been experiencing disappeared within a week.  Also I got to have sex.

Example: When I was six, my after school program had an obstacle course race through the local playground. After an astounding start that saw me gliding and bounding over the grass at warp speed, I got stuck at the top of a fireman’s pole. Terrified, unable to move, I stood trembling. Then one of the counselors walked to the bottom of the pole. She had astounding cleavage. “Come on, Michael, slide down. I’m right here.” And so I leaped onto the pole and slid down, imagining that I would land nestled in the girls cleavage.

That one’s not so much about friends dragging me into adulthood as it is about the motivational, sometime transformational, power of cleavage.

The point is that I’m not a very good self-starter. Absent external forces, whether they be gazongas or fraudulent emails, I’ll generally bumble around semi-functionally in a state of semi-disrepair. Why would you want someone like me to be the godparent to your child?

I don’t know the answer to that question. But, despite being nominally Jewish and therefore not really part of the godparent tradition, I agreed.  Since agreeing, my life has not changed significantly. Maybe it’s not such a big deal.

On the other hand, I do feel the urge to give out some godparently Advice to Quinlan (that’s the kid’s name). And here it is:

Pay your bills on time, get a good bed, and leap on to the fire pole without the external motivation of cleavage. You don’t need the cleavage—be bold and you’ll land safely.

It strikes me that that advice is sort of adulty. Especially the part about boobies. And it strikes me that I’m lucky to have friends who push me, kicking and screaming, towards adulthood.