“What would you like to be when you grow up?”
I love that question now… now that I am growing up.
But when I was a kid, that shit messed me up. Life was a giggly dream of singing, dancing, napping, recess, snack-time and playing gaily together with other kids. Back then, everyone was allowed to play gay because masc and fem had not yet been defined. And then there was that unavoidable day that the teacher decided it was time for us to talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up? My fluffy dream halted as if someone awakened me drenched in a pool of ice water. Had I known the phrase “Bitch are you serious?” Or “WTF?”, I am certain that my uncensored ways would have sent me to the mini-principal’s office.
But since I was a good kid, I played along and sat in a circle with the other munchkins and participated in the minor league college counseling session/employment agency interview. I was amazed and a little confused when each kid had some hint of an idea of what they wanted to do for work before they died (I was a little morbidly realistic). The professions were shouted out with joy as each kid raised his hand to share his plans for life. These punks were proclaiming to be tomorrow’s Doctors, Lawyers, Astronauts, Football Players, Pilots, Models, Musicians, Race-Car Drivers… Each one hit me as if I was the target of a machine gun. Then it was my turn… and I said “Doctor???” I felt a sudden calm and free feeling like I had dodged a bullet. Until of course, the follow up question. What kind of Doctor? There was a wave of silence then the theme of Jeopardy as all eyes stared and ears awaited my answer. “A kid Doctor???” Then Teach replied back to me, “You mean a Pediatrician”.
So there I was, stuck in a lie. Why would you ask a kid, “What kind of Doctor do you want to be?” I didn’t know all the options at that time. I wasn’t yet tainted by the reality that we are all going to end up frequenting some sort of Doctor’s office or hospital until we become a worm buffet. So I left class feeling like I had to start becoming a Doctor… then the day-dream kicked in. I was surrounded by my family, teachers, friends… (all the people that wanted only the best for me) singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. I certainly didn’t yearn to be a pediatrician nor did I have a clue what I wanted. Rich and happy might have been a safe answer. But still, for me, this conversation was premature and overwhelming. Now I’m thinking it would have been priceless to see the Teach’s face if I had spewed out, “I would like to be a recovering drug addict, wannabe actor, homosexual, gay rights activist, self-incriminating writer/blogger, mobile DJ, single 40-year-old man that sells advertisements door-to-door”.