Hey, adults, please stop talking about the weather. We young people don’t want to hear you and Suburban Mom #2 dictate the entire 10-day forecast aloud. Look it up and dress accordingly. ‘Nuff said.
Also, enough with the personal traffic reports. Listen up, long-time coworkers: unless something spectacular happened on your morning commute, we refuse to endure a 15-minute sob story of why you were 15 minutes late. Sit down, move on.
Finally, can you all shut up about Mondays? There are many correct answers to the question, “How are you?” “Ehh…it’s a Monday” isn’t one of them. Hating the mere existence of a day is unproductive; discussing it is asinine. You may be older than us, but we won’t tolerate this kind of behavior.
Don’t get me wrong: small talk is necessary—imperative, even—in many situations. Elevator rides with semi-familiar colleagues. Unexpected encounters with close-ish acquaintances. Post-hookup cool-downs with random rebounds (hint: pretend you’re asleep).
I’ve recently started acting like a real person and, despite my best efforts, conversing like one, too. That means I’ve had the unfortunate burden of discussing the three most insufferable subjects of adult banter since the dawning of language: traffic, weather, and Mondays.
My friends will agree that conversations surrounding these topics are beyond unbearable. So, why, I’ve long pondered, do young people carry so much disdain for them?
First, traffic, weather, and Mondays automatically carry a negative valence. A rainy day becomes an inevitable litany of apocalyptic inconveniences that ruin your entire life or, worse, hair. A Monday is like waking up in Hell. TSA security line? Death march. (Skip halfway through this video to see Louis CK to permanently trivialize the “perils” of air travel. On second thought, just watch the whole thing.)
The point is, we hate haters. But more significantly, conversations about traffic, weather, and Mondays remind us that we’re all going to die.
As young people, we’re idealistic enough to want to control everything in our lives—and naïve enough to think we can. I’m the first one to admit that, hence my motto is the opening lines of The Departed: “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”
Traffic, weather, and Mondays are three parts of life we know we can’t dictate. They represent the daunting reality of our impotence. They’re the gods — the same ones who prophesied to Oedipus — reminding us of our mortality and, regardless of our persisting hubris, our mortal fate. You will be chilly this weekend, they tell us. You will sit next to a smelly man on the subway, they say. You will bang your mom and gouge out your eyes… on a Monday.
And there is nothing we can do about it. Traffic and weather and Mondays are as certain as death. Someone change the subject, please.
Still, for the American Millennial, there is something even more terrifying than dying: the mundane.
We are less scared of our life’s tragic fall than we are of its plateau. We’d prefer a sudden death to a boring life, and we can’t think of anything more boring than traffic, weather, and Mondays. For a young person, our greatest fear is being resigned to the ordinary. Quick: do something dramatic! Ironic! Status-update-worthy!
Here is the beginning of a typical phone conversation with my dad:
—Hey, Dad, how are you?
—You know, just boppin’ along.
Boppin’ along? First of all, who even says that? Someone who spends the first half-hour of a family reunion discussing the drive in, that’s who. If I — or any young person — were “just boppin’ along,” we’d punch our life in the face just to spice things up.
Then, for one moment of maturity and clarity, I (reluctantly) think like an adult.
Let’s consider what my dad has been through: he lost his mother and his sister — last year, both of them. He’s survived a heart attack and prostate cancer. He’s bald — save three strands of hair masquerading as a comb over.
And what he maintains: a wife, three children, a granddaughter, a house sans mortgage, a weekly tennis lesson, and a part-collie, part-cow adorably obese mutt of dog. When you put it like that, “just boppin’ along” sounds pretty damn good.
For young people, the mundane — the traffics and weathers and Mondays of the world — means the worst. For adults, maybe it means contentment. As we get older, maybe ordinary and uneventful equals happiness and fulfillment. In fact, I hope so.
In the meantime, I’m not eager to find out for myself.