My Advice for Today’s Youth (Day 8, 2017)

Day 8 of National Poetry Writing Month arrives with a prompt asking us to use repetition in a poem.

My Advice for Today’s Youth

I got married at 20, and when I
talk to kids, I tell them
you should, too!

Many scientists will tell you that
the human brain is still
getting its shit together
at 20, that you have to be
24 or 25 to make 
fully rational decisions
but what’s rational about love? 
The nature of love
changes when it’s being observed,
and you will never be able to
replicate your findings in the lab.
And I really don’t recommend
asking too many questions about
why you love someone or
what any of it means.
Love is too delicate to 
strap to a chair and interrogate.  
If you put a harsh light
in love’s eyes and start beating it with
a rubber hose and asking it to 
explain itself, it will turn bitter and 
spit in your face.
You’re better off marrying at 20,
before your bad-cop instincts take over.

20 is a perfect age
to get married because
you’re just about to 
enter adulthood,
when the world 
starts trying to break you.
Life is an adventure,
an adrenaline rush that
mingles elation and terror 
and ends in death.  It’s scary
and beautiful and pointless
in equal measures.  
You will need a friend.
Jumping out of a plane
without a parachute
is more fun with a partner.

You can’t buy at beer at 20,
but you can buy a ring and
rent a tuxedo and
pay a minister
and throw a party
so you might as well.
The state of Maryland thinks a
glass of wine is beyond your 
powers of comprehension, but
it acknowledges that you 
have the foresight to make
a lifetime contractual commitment
with severe financial ramifications
and extreme emotional peril
as soon as you turn 18,
which often happens before
you receive a high school diploma,
when you’re still
pushing carts part-time 
at Wal-Mart.

When I was 20,
I knew only that I wanted to 
be forever yoked to a woman 
I’d met ten months before
and move to another state
where I would pay
higher tuition to
finish the college education
I was only partway through
while waiting tables at
a chain restaurant
where other people who were 20
worked for beer money and
got stoned on the regular
before screwing each other in
a round-robin carousel of 
unfamiliar orifices
while I paid an electric bill
and cuddled in front of
a 19-inch screen showing
reruns of Ally McBeal.
Yes, other people had more fun
at 20 than I did,
and they don’t have student loans
because their parents 
were still responsible for them,
but I learned the value of hard work,
and I never had to pay for an abortion.

But the real reason
I encourage everyone–
even my own two kids–
to marry at 20 
is the simplest one:
If you choose correctly,
if you put all your chips
on 20 and the roulette 
wheel bounces your way,
you’ll be as happy as I am at 36
and you won’t regret the 
women you never dated
or the hangovers you never had
or the trips you couldn’t afford to take,
or the freedom people claimed you gave up,
because when you look back on 
these 16 years, you will
realize that what you got
was greater than what 
everyone else thought you gave up.


About semiblind

Bringing you stark existentialism since 1981.
This entry was posted in best-laid plans, family, fear, NaPoWriMo, observations, people, poetry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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