Brian Keaney

Category: Personal

The Two Date Curse

I almost didn’t call her back.  It probably wouldn’t have been a surprise to her.  I didn’t know it at the time, but up until then she was afflicted with what her sister called The Two Date Curse.

Our first date was great.  We didn’t go home after leaving the bar, but instead moved down the street to a second to keep the date going.  We each had one more drink, but then the waitress seemed to forget about us.  We waited, and waited, and then waited some more.  There wouldn’t be time for another drink; at this point we just needed the check.

The hour was growing near when my train would be leaving the station, and I had to get home.  I eventually left her to wait some more alone and, after sprinting through Downtown Crossing towards South Station, barely caught the train.

I paid for the drinks that evening, which was how I knew I wanted to see her again.  If I didn’t want a second date, I would have accepted her offer to go Dutch.  I split the bill on a lot of dates, and it was still costing me a fortune.  I had a line item in my budget for dates, and I even managed to occasionally pull off a date with one girl at 6:00 and another at 8:00.  I even had it worked out how I could have squeezed in a third girl at 10:00, but it never came to that.

On this particular second date, I learned just what a lightweight she was.  We were two beers in, and she was clearly feeling them both.  She was also far more nervous than on our first date, and that manifested itself in a shrillness in her voice.

As we sat in whatever hipster Davis Square establishment we were patronizing that evening, I thought that this might be the end of it and I would be on to the next girl.  Something obviously changed, because this girl has since agreed to marry me.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and not only because she will be the last girl I ever date.  A friend has recently written about how difficult it is to make friends as a post-college adult, and recently The Art of Manliness posted about the 3-Encounter Rule.  That is, you really need to spend time with someone three times before you know if there is potential for a relationship–platonic, romantic, or otherwise–there.

Though I dated a lot of great girls, very few of them got to a third date.  Don’t get me wrong: I am very happy with Lilli and can’t wait to marry her.   Still, I can’t help but to think how my life may have been different if I had given some of these other girls a bit more of a chance.  Lilli’s experience, what with her Two Date Curse, and even Aziz Ansari’s love life for that matter, leads me to believe this is more common than it should be.

Next weekend we are going out with another couple for the second time.  I obviously enjoyed our first encounter, and we will see if there is a third.  I hope there is, not only because I enjoyed the first time so much, but because I need to break my own two date curse.  You can never have too many friends, but I have had far too few third dates.

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I really do like foreigners

A few years ago I went on a date with a girl from Nigeria, and somewhere between the appetizer and desert I told her that I don’t like foreigners.   I expected the confused look that came over her face, so I quickly followed up by explaining that I consider anyone south of Connecticut or west of Vermont to be a foreigner.   I don’t simply mean people from Germany, or Mexico, or even Nigeria.

It’s not really true that I don’t like people who are not from New England.  It’s just that I don’t understand them.  And, as a psychology professor was recently quoted, “normal” means like me, while “abnormal” means unlike me.  There are, obviously, a lot of abnormal people in the world.

A few weeks ago I took my dad to watch his two favorite teams, the Patriots and the Packers, face off at Lambeau Field.  On our drive to the stadium we asked Siri for directions to a sports bar, and she took us to what was essentially a double wide trailer backing up to some train tracks in a small town outside Green Bay.

Now I’m a fan of a good dive bar, but in Boston that usually means a little hole in the wall that’s been around for a couple hundred years and was last updated during the Coolidge Administration.  This DePere, Wisconsin watering hole wouldn’t even qualify as a dive in Boston, much less as a sports bar.

While sitting there watching the 1:00 (or 12:00 Central) game, a friend asked via text what I thought of Green Bay.  “Wisconsin has entirely met my expectations,” I replied.  What was left unsaid, but perfectly understood, was that those expectations were pretty low.

The next day David Brooks published a column in which he talks about snobs such as myself, and the growing class divide in this country:

Today we once again have a sharp social divide between people who live in the “respectable” meritocracy and those who live beyond it. In one world almost everybody you meet has at least been to college, and people have very little contact with features that are sometimes a part of the other world: prison, meth, payday loans, a flowering of nonmarriage family forms. In one world, people assume they can control their destinies. In the other, some people embrace the now common motto: “It don’t make no difference.”

I very much live in that first world, but I’m not completely insulated from the second.  As the snow starts falling here in New England, I am excited to begin volunteering again with children from some of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, teaching them how to ski.  I get a great deal of satisfaction being able to share an activity that I love, and one which puts a strain on my budget, with children who, living in that other world, otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity.

Brooks’ greater point was that the Great Gatsby-ization that we are experiencing has inserted classism where racism once reared its ugly head.  He’s right, but I think it goes further than that.  Pointing a finger squarely at myself, I recognize that somehow I am more comfortable with the urban poverty prevalent a few miles from my own home than I am with the rural poverty common in other parts of the country.

I will empathize with the poor in films like Precious, set in Harlem, but am left with an ick feeling watching Mud, which takes place on the Mississippi River in Arkansas.  Both were phenomenal films, and I highly recommend them both, but somehow the poverty portrayed in the latter is more distasteful.

I also recognize that my discomfort with the way the rural poor live says a lot more about me than it does about them.  After all, did we not just celebrate a child laid in a manger?  Talk about poverty, and rural poverty at that.  Still, any place where “the Cheese Castle” is the biggest attraction for an hour in either direction is likely to remain a mystery to me.

Truth be told, I really liked the people I met in Wisconsin.  To a person they had that famous Midwestern friendliness, and this includes the barmaid in the Clay Matthews jersey who actually turned up the volume when I played “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” on the jukebox.  I particularly liked the pretty blonde who told me after the game that I “would look so hot in green and gold.”  I, on the other hand, have been known to yell “Go back to New York” at people wearing Yankees hats in Boston, although in my defense I’ve usually been somewhere south of sober.

Even after four years of living there I still experience culture shock in that Deep South city in the District of Columbia, and that doesn’t even begin to compare to to the island paradise known as Hawai’i.  (“Why,” I ask myself every time I get on an escalator there, “are these people standing still?  Move!”)

When people ask why I moved back to Boston from my apartment four blocks from Waikiki Beach–and they always ask–I have a ready answer for them:  This is home.  I mean, of course, that this is where I grew up and this is where my family is.  Just as much, however, I mean that Boston is normal while Honolulu, as picture postcard perfect as it is, is abnormal.

 

 

 

I may be drunk but you’re wrong

Lady Astor: “Mr. Churchill, you’re drunk!”Winston Churchill: “Yes, and you, Madam, are ugly. But tomorrow, I shall be sober and you shall still be ugly.”

Having participated in many installation ceremonies in the Knights of Columbus, both as one being installed and one doing the installing, there are parts that I could recite from memory.  For a while I believed that the entire ceremony was a relic of the past.  It once may have provided entertainment, but today it is simply a drawn out affair that could be dispensed with and no one would much mind.

Today, I recognize that while it may not have all the glitz of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, it might be the first time in a long while that the men being installed are being made out to be a big deal.  For 364 days a year he is getting pushed around at work, toiling away at a job and taking abuse from his boss.  On this one night, however, he gets recognized and singled out in front of his friends and family as a leader and a man of consequence.  It gave me a new perspective on the entire ceremony.

There is a line in the ceremony about how each individual excels at one thing  more than his fellow man.  I’m not sure how true this is as I can’t think of anything I can do that plenty of other people can’t do as well, and probably better, but after last night I think I might be on to something.

I went for the first time to Howl at the Moon, a piano bar I’ve been meaning to check out for some time.  It was a lot of fun, and as the night went on the number of musicians grew.  In addition to the two grands, there was a set of drums, a bass, and a guitar.  The musicians were jumping back and forth between each of them effortlessly, so after a song or two at the keyboard they would move to the drums, and so on.  It was quite impressive, and very clear what their special talent is.

I had, shall we say, a very good time, in no small part due to the bottle of Jameson that I smuggled into the bar.  Now I’m not a big texter to begin with, and I’m also not known as a drunk dialer, but for some reason when the band started playing a song from The Lion King I felt the need to tell my sister that I wanted to hear it at her wedding.  Seven months from now.

What followed was largely a series of unintelligible letters and not even I can decipher what I was trying to convey in some of them.  For example, at one point she asked me where I was.  “Awesomeew,” I responded.  Things went downhill from there.

The last text I got from her read: “God your in trouble… Sober up,” and presently we come to the one capacity in which I excel to a greater extent than my fellow man.  Even though my liver was working overtime, I still recognized that my baby sister had used the wrong homophone and I set about to correct her.  In response I told her that the word she was looking for was “you’re,” not “your.”  Of course, in explaining it I said “you ate” and not “you are,” but I’m pretty sure she got the message.

Apropos of last night, there is something that I have long known that I was better at than the majority of people.  It certainly isn’t a skill, and I don’t think I would even go so far as to call it a talent.  It is, perhaps, best described as a favorable genetic trait.  Nature didn’t give me good looks, or considerable intelligence, or great athletic ability.  What I did get, however, is immunity from the hangover.

Two of the friends with whom I went out last night were both far less intoxicated than I and were kind enough to offer me their couch as I was in no condition to get behind the wheel.  This morning I was up and out the door before they were even awake.  I had a full day ahead of me and though I was tired this morning, there was no headache, no nausea, and none of the other classic symptoms of a hangover.

Now I’ll grant you that knowing which witch is which while three sheets to the wind is not as impressive as being able to play nearly any song on command and from memory, but still, it’s something. Perhaps the writers of the installation ceremony knew what they were talking about after all.

The allegory of the 12 monkeys

It’s not even yet 9 am, and I’ve already experienced my first :headdesk: moment of the day.  It’s times like these that I like to let my mind wander back to islands.  Not for memory of the gentle tradewind breeze that blew across my lanai, or the sight of the sun setting over the Pacific while I sipped on a mai tai, or even for the rush I felt when I was finally able to catch a wave and ride it.  No, it is for a story related to me by perhaps the most cosmopolitan Islander I knew there.  While it does nothing to make the situation any better, it does at least give me a chuckle.

Twelve monkeys were put into a large cage together and lived peacefully enough.  One day a bunch of bananas was placed in the middle of the cage.  Monkeys, being fond of bananas, immediately went for a snack.  As soon as the first of our primate cousins touched one, however, a fire hose was turned on and sprayed all of the monkeys to the far side of the cage.  This process was repeated the next day, and then the next day, and continued until the monkeys finally figured out what was going on.

The following day, when the bananas were placed in the cage, the monkeys who had figured it out went over and defended the bananas, not allowing anyone else to touch them lest the fire hose be turned on them again.  Should another monkey persist, the monkeys who were wise to what was happening beat up the offender.  This continued until all 12 monkeys knew that if they tried to eat the bananas that they would get beaten up.

One day one of the monkeys was removed from the cage, and a new monkey was put in his place.  When the bananas were placed in the cage the new guy, seeing a tasty little treat, went for them and earned a couple black eyes and some bruises for his efforts.  Soon enough he learned not to touch the bananas.  When he learned well enough to leave the bananas alone, another monkey was removed and yet another new monkey took his place.  The lesson not to touch the bananas was quickly imparted to him, and the cycle of replacement continued.

Eventually there were 12 monkeys in the cage who had never experienced the fire hose, and all but one of them knew enough not to touch the bananas lest there be some painful repercussions.  When the 12th and final replacement went to go eat a banana, the other 11 bounced on him and beat him to a pulp.

“Hey,” said the new monkey.  “I was just going to eat a banana.  I wasn’t hurting anyone.  What did you all beat me up for?”

“I don’t know,” replied the other monkeys.  “That’s just the way things have always been done around here.”

I can appreciate when there is a logical reason behind something I don’t like, even if it’s something I’m going to have to do and not like doing.  What kills me, however, is when ridiculous practices persist, even if there is no good reason for it, simply because that is how things have always been done in the past.  What I wouldn’t give, in times like this, to be sipping a mai tai on my lanai.

The photo above was posted to Flickr by Mozzer502 under this Creative Commons license.

Sharing in our Master’s subatomic particles

First posted at Millennial.

I was especially excited for the 4th of July this year.  It has always been a special holiday for me, seeing as I love both history and the beach, and I get heavy doses of both each Independence Day.  This year, however, neither of those got me half as excited as what was taking place half a world away, in a city where no one cared that it was the 236th anniversary of our liberty.

The Higgs boson, commonly known as the God Particle, is what gives everything in the universe mass and has long been predicted but never seen.  Until now.  Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva announced this summer that they have likely detected it, and in the world of particle physics this is a Really Big Deal.

While the practical applications of this discovery far exceed my limited intellect, I am sure it is only a matter of time before someone comes up with one (and then commercializes it).  As Pope John Paul the Great has noted, “so far has science come, especially in this century, that its achievements never cease to amaze us.”  Similarly, the other His Holiness, the Dalai Llama, has written that “the amount of scientific knowledge and the range of technological possibilities are so enormous that the only limitations on what we may do may be the results of insufficient imagination.”

In his 2005 book, The Universe in a Single Atom, the Dalai Llama beautifully shows within the context of Tibetan Buddhism that Pope John Paul was correct in saying that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”  He goes on to propose ways that modern science and his ancient Buddhist faith can complement each other and further each other’s goals, but also finds a few places to critique science and its limitations from a Buddhist perspective as well.

Every chapter explores a different science, everything from quantum mechanics to neurobiology, but for my money the last is his best.  In Ethics and the New Genetics the Dalai Llama becomes noticeably more impassioned, and he gives voice to worries about everything from cloning to Frankenfood.  It is also here that he offers ardent cautions on not letting our scientific ability get too far ahead of our ethical assessments.

The human capacity for moral reasoning has kept pace with developments in human knowledge and its capacities.  But with the new era in biogenetic science, the gap between moral reasoning and our technological capacities has reached a critical point.  The rapid increase of human knowledge and the technological possibilities emerging in the new genetic science are such that it is now almost impossible for ethical thinking to keep pace with these changes.

While I disagree that our technological ability has outpaced our ability to think about the ethical ramifications, I do worry that if someone gets too wrapped up in their work—whatever the field—that the question of whether or not I can often times becomes more important than whether or not Ishould.  Especially when we are talking about the fundamentals of life, it behooves us to take a step back from time to time and look at the bigger picture.

Here once again the late Pontiff for whom our generation is named cautioned us in Fides et Ratio: “And since it [the belief that science is the only form of valid knowledge] leaves no space for the critique offered by ethal judgement, the scientistic mentality has succeeded in leading many to think that if something is technically possible it is therefore morally admissible.”

Of course it is not only science that is susceptible to this fallacy.  We have seen the effects of financial markets and consumer-driven excess where it was never considered whether or not pecuniary decisions were wise or just, but simply whether or not they were profitable.  Bankers, like scientists, and all the rest of us for that matter, “lacking any ethical point of reference, are in danger of putting at the centre of their concerns something other than the human person and the entirety of the person’s life.”

While I was never much of a student of it, I do love science.  I genuinely was excited when the Higgs boson was discovered, but I want to make sure that we never lose sight of the fact that these great scientific advances should be a means to improving the lot of humanity and not simply ends in themselves.

To those whom our late Holy Father has called “these brave pioneers of scientific research, to whom humanity owes so much of its current development,” the Dalai Llama has said that “the issue is no longer whether we should or should not acquire knowledge and explore its technological potentials.  Rather, the issue is how to use this new knowledge and power in the most expedient and ethically responsible manner.”

If they, and we in our own lives, do that, I hope we will all someday hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”

Out of the mouths of kiddos

I do all the warm up drills with the kids except skipping. I refuse to skip.

This morning on the bus a little girl I’ve seen many times before got on, per usual, with her Justin Beiber backpack strapped on to her shoulders.  Normally this wouldn’t merit a second look, but her neon orange socks were matched by a t-shirt of the same color.  Even then, the only reason I cared was that I saw that shirt being distributed the night before but somehow never noticed her at the distribution site.

After the little snow New England saw this winter finally melted away, it seemed like my volunteering days with YES would be put on hold until next ski season.  They have a full lineup of summer activities, but all of them are during weekdays.  Or so I thought.  Turns out they have a track and field team that meets twice a week in the evening.  Even though I’ve never run track, I missed working with the kids and signed up.

The kids range in age from four to 14, and I think there are even a few three-year-olds thrown in there.  Had you asked me at the beginning of the season  which group I did not want, I would have told you the really little ones.  They are fun in short doses, but I thought I would get more out of it working with the older kids.  Turns out I was wrong, and that the four- and five-year-olds keep me both constantly smiling and forever trying to make sense of the senseless knock knock jokes they find so hilarious.  (I wasn’t wrong about the short doses thing, though.  By the time practice is over they are about ready to be done and I am about done trying to organize chaos.)

After practice last night they started handing out t-shirts to some of the kids, and it was one such shirt that I saw on the bus this morning.  Turns out that if your child attends enough of this absolutely free program where they get to make new friends, exercise, and learn the fundamentals of a sport that could bring them eternal high school glory (and who knows, maybe even a trip to the Olympics), they get a free t-shirt. How is that for an enticement to get them to make 10 practices or meets where they have everything to gain and nothing to lose?

They also had some embroidered polo shirts for the coaches.  It was a very nice gesture, and one that I should have been more appreciative of, but earlier events that evening made it all but impossible.  Several weeks ago the other coach who works regularly with the little ones told me that the kids “adored me.”  I didn’t believe her, but in fairness that didn’t stop me from bragging to my sisters that I was an object of adoration.  They, not unexpectedly, had a reaction that could be described as something short of adoring.

Last night I began to think that my fellow coach may have been on to something.  While keeping some sort of order as the kids jumped over hurdles that could be hidden by tall grass, one of the four-year-olds came up behind me and hugged my leg.  Initially taken a little aback, I looked down and smiled at her.  It was then that she looked those big blue eyes up at me and said, “You’re doing a great job, kiddo.”

Where she came up with a line like that I have no idea, but it sure meant a whole lot more to me than any polo shirt ever will.

Feels pretty damn good

Yesterday I marked a milestone in my life, and closed by saying that “at least medically, I’m probably as good as I’m ever going to be.”  That may or may not be, but I would hope that in terms of physical fitness that I am still improving.  I finally made it back to the gym tonight after a week or so absence (this not working from home thing really eats the hours out of the day) and think I posted a pretty respectable time in a pretty tough workout.  At the very least, I beat my brother-in-law, so I was happy.

In any event, after the WOD, and then some birthday cake, I returned home to find a number of text messages waiting for me.  One was from a cousin who loves to remind me of  just how old I am, and she pointed out that today, the second day in a row for me, marks an anniversary.  She asked: “How does it feel to be a decade past your 21st birthday?”

I would never give her a truthful answer as I don’t like to use that kind of language to begin with, and as a rule avoid it while speaking to the fairer sex.  She asked a question, however, and even though it was designed to antagonize me I still thought it deserved a response.  Remembering that I need to keep a positive outlook on the growing number of candles that appear on my cake, I responded thusly: “Feels like I could out run you, out party you, and drink you under the table.”

I can say all three things – to a collegiate athlete in the NCAA record books, no less – with 100% truthfulness and confidence.  She wants to know how it feels?  That feels pretty damn good.

As good as I’ll ever be

My idea of universal healthcare.

About this time last year, I was lamenting the fact that I have led a pretty mediocre life, but resolved within a decade to do something great.  This weekend, and more particularly today, it hit me just how long – and short – a decade really is.

Once again, for my birthday, I received as a gift the rental of a jet ski on West Dennis Beach (And a toy – a really cool one with which someone post-30 wouldn’t be embarrassed to play.  At least I won’t be.)  During my ride, in full view of my family, I hit a wave the wrong way at speed and went tumbling ass over teakettle into the ocean.  It was, quite nearly, exactly how I fell off a jet ski on July 9, 2002.  After that accident, which I still remember with painful clarity, I got back onto the ski, took it back to shore, and someone pointed out that my lifejacket was covered in blood.

That night, in addition to getting a cute nurse’s phone number, I also got stitches in my chin – sans Novocaine, as I don’t believe in medicine.  Aside from having my blood pressure taken during my several trips a year to the Red Cross, and an ice pack and a brief cognitive diagnostic when I hit my head skiing hard enough to cause memory loss, it was the last time I received any kind of medical care.  As I’ve said here before,

It’s been more than a decade since I have been for a physical, and even longer than that since I’ve taken any kind of medicine.  I figure that if I am sick, I will go to the doctor’s.  If not, I am not going to waste my time having someone poke and prod me only to tell me what I already know, that I am healthy.  Even when I got the flu for the first time in my life, and had a fever high enough to make me delusional, I still refused pharmaceuticals.  A couple oranges, a bottle of Irish whiskey, and I got better.

I still “ain’t as good as I’m gonna get,” but, at least medically, I’m probably as good as I’m ever going to be.

Better than I used to be

For most of high school I didn’t really care for science class.  Introduction to Physical Science was OK my freshman year, but I didn’t like biology in my sophomore year, and I really despised chemistry as a junior.  Come senior year, however, I actually really enjoyed physics.  The teacher was great, and I found the subject matter intuitive and engaging.

I’ve written here before that I’ve been questioning the structure of the atom since suffering through Mr. Creedon’s lectures in the 11th grade.  The past few books I’ve read have been on quantum physics, and once again I was teased into believing that I might finally be told how a quantum jump (when an electron moves from one orbit to another, without being any place in between) works.  Alas, once again I was disappointed.

The last of my trifecta of books on this subject was Kenneth Ford’s 101 Quantum Questions, and early on in the book – question 26, to be exact – the question “What is a quantum jump?” is proposed.  I was excited, as I thought I might finally have an answer.  I wish that the question was instead “How does a quantum jump work?” because while it was described, it was still not explained.  The author did mention that Einstein didn’t like them either, so at least I am in good company.

In a somewhat related question (72), Ford says that

Perhaps the most astonishing feature of that graph is that at five points… the probability is exactly zero.  This means that if the particle is in that particular state of motion, it will never be found at one of those positions.  If it is never going to be found at points B, C, or D, you  might ask, how could it get from A to E?  How could it cover the distance from one wall to the other without some probability of being found at every point in between?

I have been asking that question for more than a decade now.  The best answer Ford can come up with is that “Well, there are some things in quantum physics that we just have to accept whether we find them reasonable or not.”  Needless to say, this answer is less than satisfying.

Einstein reportedly called quantum physics “spooky.”  I think mind blowing is a more apt term.  A particle is both a wave when it suits it to be a wave, and a particle when it suits it to be a particle.  Not only that, but a particle by itself can travel backwards and forwards in time, jump through walls, and do any number of other things that completely defy common sense.

I am both intrigued and frustrated by the subject, but am painfully aware of how much else is out there of which I am even more ignorant, and have moved on in my reading pursuits.  I’m currently on a philosophy bent with Sandel and Kierkegaard both in the queue, and am on the lookout for a new topic to explore when I am done with them.  With this being the summer, and substantial time being spent on the beach in addition to a hefty diet of MBTA hours, I’m looking to branch out into something completely different.

 

Along those lines, I am taking my first math class in over 10 years.  While in grad school I would usually skip over the portions of journal articles that described how the studies were conducted and only skim the statistical analysis.  At one point, as more of a personal challenge than anything else, I decided to check out Statistics for Dummies out of the library and teach it to myself.

I did alright, although I don’t think I finished the book.  Several of the jobs I’ve been applying to want someone with an understanding of the subject, however, so I decided to pay someone who knows what they are talking about to teach it to me.  I’ve done very well so far, and am considering finding a calculus class in the fall so that I can take a college level physics class in the spring.

In Tim McGraw’s new song he talks about trying to become a better person.  I don’t think he means academically, and heaven knows there are plenty of areas where I could use some improvement, so lately I’ve been listening to it even more than We’re Not Young.  Still, I’d like to think that when he sings “I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get, but I’m better than I used to be,” that it applies to me as well.

Musical notes

Judging by the time stamps on the texts I sent the other night, it took me about an hour to travel half the length of the Orange Line.  Also judging by my spelling and grammar in said texts, I should have found another way to entertain my intoxicated self during the extraordinarily long trip home.  Sitting at downtown crossing for half an hour is no excuse for inverting nouns and verbs.

At least he wasn’t taking up three seats on the T.

My trip in, on the other hand, was not only shorter, it was also more eventful. Shortly after boarding an empty car I was joined by three guys a few years younger than I.  One could certainly be classified as a hipster and, no surprise, as they walked past I could hear that music was their topic of discussion.  They had a paper bag full of nips and I had a flask, so we had a connection that was meaningful as long as it lasted.

I wasn’t really paying attention, but somehow their conversation turned to the Celtics, and Rajon Rondo in particular.  I don’t think any one of them was a fan, and presently they returned to music.  Rondo gave way to Rhonda, and one asked if there was ever a song written with the word Rhonda in it.  None of them could think of one, so I offered “Help Me Rhonda” by the Beach Boys.  I think they were impressed as they raised their nips to me and I acknowledged  them with a tip and a draft of my flask.

While I might have felt momentarily superior in my musical knowledge, I can’t say that all has been smooth in that department as of late.   When I am studying, or doing something where I really need to focus, I like to listen to both classical and Hawaiian music, particularly hula.  I don’t get caught up in the lyrics, and it helps drown out other distractions.

Lately, however, Pandora has been throwing a lot of other music into my classical station for reasons unknown.  At first it was Adele.  In the past couple days Pandora has been branching out even more, despite my thumbs down to Al Green and Fun.  I like all of them, but it’s not what I want to hear when I am expecting Brahms and Wagner.

Fun in particular was an interesting selection.  They seem to be the likely next step in musical trends lately – as best an amateur and outsider like myself can discern, anyway – but are certainly not even close to classical.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of them when I first heard them, but I came to like them and their hit, We Are Young, in particular, a great deal.  That is, I liked them until I heard Yahoo’s parody.

It was a bit painful to be reminded that I am no longer young, and that I increasingly have more in common with the sad, sorry 30-somethings of the parody than I do with the partying, bar fighting 20-somethings of the original.  As I approached my own three decade mark, I wrote here that

To be sure I have accomplished things in my life, but I don’t know that I would call any of them great.  I’ve never saved a life.  I’ve never directed a best picture winning film.  I’ve never written the great American novel, reconciled quantum physics with general relativity, won the Congressional Medal of Honor, cured the common cold, eliminated racism, or brought about world peace.  Since the day I was born, I’ve never done anything that millions of people before me haven’t done, and billions after me won’t do.

That sentiment is awfully reminiscent of the parody’s: “We’re all somewhere in our 30s, done nothing worthy, this ain’t fun.”  Then again, I used the occasion as a call to arms to get up and do something great.  The songwriters, on the other hand, only delved further into their own angst.  The mid-life crisis is well established, and the quarter-life crisis is well known among my peers, but could this song be the catalyst for recognition of a one-third life crisis?