'Okay, I don't own houses or dress well or have children or anything, but I have been dealing with my own shit and taking care of myself in some basic way for a good long while,' says Mitali Saran.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
This week I may or may not have gone to someone's house for the first time, for what must have been a very nice sit-down dinner, and I may or may not have ended up lying under the dining table, insisting that the hostess join me, and could she please pass me my glass while she was at it.
This may or may not have been the most dignified and responsible of my actions that night. I won't get into the rest of this entirely hypothetical story because my mother reads this column and she has weak lungs and she's travelling and I'm not sure she has a nebuliser with her.
I put this out here for the same reason as I once wrote about wetting the hotel bed I was sharing on the road with my then boss and her infant daughter, on whom I briefly considered trying to blame all 28 gallons of pee and that is simply that the truth will out, and one should get ahead of it.
Anyway, this dinner episode has also been troubling to me because I'm shortly going to turn 46, and by every reasonable metric I should by now be completely grown up.
If this is the finished product, I really don't know what to say -- "I want a refund"? That would sound reasonable coming from my parents.
I should say here, for the record, that they brought me up mostly just fine, and the messed-up twisty stuff is mostly just mine.
I look around at my peers and am constantly amazed. They write books, run schools, own houses, build international businesses, dress with cutting-edge style, create cultural spaces, keep their plants alive, buy more houses and then do them up nicely, perform in public, travel to lovely locations, cook wonderfully, run marathons, work all day, take care of their ageing parents, remain seated upright throughout their meals, have children -- dear god, some of them do all these things while raising children.
Good readers, I feel pretty chuffed if I bathe once a day. This repulsive lack of substance belongs, does it not, to callow privileged adolescence? There's no need to answer that, it's rhetorical.
According to the widely accepted graph of personal development, one begins by being all over the place and is slowly tempered, by the fires of life, into a proper person with gravitas and the ability to shoulder responsibility.
I feel that there may be an alternative, less advertised, developmental model out there, whereby one begins as a smart, self-possessed child and disintegrates, over several decades, into someone you can't take anywhere.
Having had a minimum of two midlife crises already, as well as a couple of false alarms, I really thought I'd gotten on top of what today's kids call 'adulting', a revolting term that is also perfect.
Okay, I don't own houses or dress well or have children or anything, but I have been dealing with my own shit and taking care of myself in some basic way for a good long while.
This week has caused me to scuttle back to the drawing board and inspect it for deficiencies.
Because maybe it's all a matter of definition. If by 'grown-up' they mean 'moderate, civic-minded, and well-adjusted to social situations', I haven't completely cracked it.
But if they mean 'has finally understood that life is a continuing series of ritual humiliations designed to make you long for death', then I'm all grown up.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to comfort eat.