The strangest part of now is the explanation, the description of who you are or what you are doing we so often give to people we meet or old friends we are catching up with. Common questions are: “What do you do?” “Where do you live?” “What have you been up to this past year?”
For the last question I have a relatively painless, somewhat interesting answer see (“Welcome…Home”) but the other two are awkward.
“What do you do?”
Saying, “I’m a retired investment banker,” generally attracts looks of surprise, as people try to figure out whether I am crazy, full of myself, or some genius trader whose first year bonus was so big it allowed him to retire for life at the tender age of 21. Then there’s the ever popular, panty dropper, “I am unemployed.” But this somehow misses the romantic nuance of my situation. Finally, I can attempt to ignore my year of work altogether by saying, “I graduated from NYU.” However this approach usually brings with it a slew of questions about what I want to do with my life, which naturally causes me to talk ad nauseam about my year of work to reveal where my aversion for the corporate world comes from.
“Where do you live?”
The answer to this question is either romantic or repulsive, depending on how far the questioner decides to probe. My natural response is geographic, “I live in Santa Monica.” A good neighborhood, on the beach, filled with the wealthy and the healthy, indicates success and happiness to the questionnaire. But when they decide to ask, “who do you live with?” it all goes to hell. “My brother………My mom…My dad.” It’s not that I am embarrassed of my family. Not in the least. It is that I am embarrassed of myself, living with my family at this age. Of course, the best situation is when the questioner is a young girl, I just met at a bar, who smells like sweet and sour cherry blossoms. But don’t worry, I think to myself. My parents are cool. You just have to take off your shoes before tip toeing upstairs, and make sure to be quiet because they sleep in the next room…It’ll be just like high school.