My kid keeps bugging me about “What were you like when you were young, Dad?”
So this memoir of my life as a slacker in Minneapolis in the 80’s is mostly for her.
The first thing is for her and all of you born after 1990, you are not allowed to live like me and my slacker friends did thirty years ago. Don’t do it. Stay in school and get some experience that will help you find a career that allows you the lifestyle you imagine. Don’t postpone this too long. Everyone needs a mission. Something relevant you can do that makes the world a better place. Because the world doesn’t need another generation of disaffected, aimless buttheads, sleeping late, rolling their eyes and sucking up way more than their share of the good stuff the world provides. So pick a lifestyle that involves a mission. You’ll be more fulfilled and the world better off. I’m talking to you, the one staring at your phone and tugging at that thing the size of a quarter inserted in your earlobe. Self-mutilation is not attractive. The rest of us don’t want to look at your ridiculous tribal disfigurement.
Full disclosure: I did once have an earring for about two months. A girl I knew numbed my ear with an ice cube and perforated my flesh with a safety pin. I therefore inserted a silver hoop alternated with the said safety pin and displayed it to the world. However, it kept getting infected and I think I pierced the wrong ear. Didn’t quite understand the code at that point. Yanked it out and healed my ear.
In any case, hell yeah, the slacker way was a fun ride that for me lasted about a decade. But not for you, forget about it.
My buddy Bryce, he figured it out. Or maybe it was his girlfriend, now wife going on 30 years, that pushed him. Bryce and I worked together at the same downtown hotel. He was a waiter and I was a bartender. At about age 23 he decided to become an air traffic controller, signed up, went through training and a year later was talking to airplanes. Fast-forward to 2013 the dude is retired with a government pension and working a second gig overseas. I would totally retire right now if I could but I’m a little over ten years from doing so. Most of us farted around, had fun doing it, but more or less wasted time. Getting an earlier start now means more free time later when you will be wise enough not to waste it.
Nonetheless, there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. People from my generation appreciate their cultural references and have little patience for those who can’t relate. Yes, that is a lyric from a band whose music I rediscover every few years and have been listening to for over 40 years.
Being a slacker was never a conscious choice. No guidance counselor ever sized me up and declared, “You would make a fine slacker!” It might have been the military recruiter who right after high school kept calling me up early in the morning asking about my plans and even sent me a pair of camouflage socks in the mail. Maybe a little bit of oppositional defiance going on that situation.
Whatever, “Whatever” being a key phrase, whatever the reason I became a slacker I can say that from the fog of my slacker years a useful human being emerged. Eventually.
Next: Recipe for a Slacker