Loser stories

I’m desperately trying to finish up an essay about being a teenage loser. It’s proving harder than you might think.

Ten years ago I had a full two-dozen entries in the Annals of Adolescent Loserdom. Now most of them have expired.

This is the eternal way of things. Ever since Cain made the faux pas of offering burnt zucchini instead of a lamb to God, teenagers have excelled at inventing creative ways to humiliate themselves.

And when Cain killed his brother, whose animal sacrifice found favor with the Lord while Cain’s own pathetic vegetables were rejected, God cursed him to wander the earth. He also punished the rest of humankind by decreeing, in a lesser-known passage of Genesis, that each generation’s embarrassments would forevermore be largely incomprehensible to the next.

This is why your own adolescent travails are never fully identified with — why, as the years pass, they start to sound as archaic and irrelevant as your grandmother’s three-mile hike to school in the snow. Even that poor girl who switched schools after she discovered a hate group devoted to mocking her epileptic seizures on MySpace will never be able to convey the full horror of the experience her grandchild. “God, Grammy, how come you’re always talking about MySpace?” the kid will say.

Fortunately the Creator was not entirely without mercy. He did allow a few dozen humiliations to endure. I’m trying to write about one of those, but it’s taking longer than I expected.

I’ll leave you with Shalom Auslander’s latest column on writer’s block.

And some days, like the days earlier this month, the work seems so clear and vivid in your mind, and your blood rises and the levee breaks and nothing but rage and fury bleeds so beautifully from the tips of your fingers, the sacred and the profane, the tragic and the comic, and there is a calm silence in your mind and there is only one voice there and it is your own, and you hear yourself laugh, not at what you are writing but that you are writing, that you are watching yourself being born, holding your life in your hand and turning it this way and that — Oh, wait … I never realized … what about — and it’s yours now, you are your own Creator, writing your own Bible, and this is your Exodus, and it’s okay, and those are the days, I promise you, those are the days that God looks down from heaven above and He strokes his mighty beard, and He puts on His mighty brass knuckles and He says, “Not so fast, buddy boy. Not so fucking fast.”


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