If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Angel Update

The start of sophomore year is sooo very different than freshman year--for both of us. This year he is in a different (bigger & better) dorm room and his roommate is one of his frat brothers rather than one of the lacrosse players. [The young men in this college mostly fall into one of those 2 categories from what I can surmise.] Last year his dorm room was the hang-out room for the lacrosse guys. Angel liked them well enough but probably not enough to enjoy giving up his room to them. This year I hear his friends are always around, making it challenging to get schoolwork done, but it doesn't sound like a complaint. While Angel was growing up our house was NEVER the hang-out house. Angel rarely hung out.

He originally signed up for 18 hours of classes (something I thought was NOT a good idea) to make up for the previous term where he only took 12 hours (something I thought was NOT a good idea). However he decided to drop a course because he thought he would have trouble getting everything done. He is taking a creative writing course and that's the one he seems most excited about (or at least that's the one he talks to me about). They read a Hemingway short story the other day, which he really liked (I HATE Hemingway). Now he has his first story to write for next week. He is also taking Spanish, which was the bane of both of our existences when he was in high school. Luckily it seems fairly familiar to him now.

He found a job, running food at a local pub. He started on Friday but then got a call for a second interview at a country club. At the country club he would be serving at events--which is what he did in his last job and what he prefers. I've actually heard from him several times this week because he needed to discuss pros and cons of each job and figure out how to extrapolate himself from the pub job, should the country club become an offer. Angel is very loyal and hates the thought of quitting right after he's agreed to work there.

Probably the strangest bit of news I heard from him this week is that he has a reputation of being a d**chebag among his friends. It seems my son has developed an attitude. Now this may sound like a problem, but it seems that his friends prefer him this way and when he's not coping an attitude with them they ask him what's wrong. Angel was ALWAYS the gentle soul; the kind friend; the team player. It seems that he took too much abuse from his friends the first semester of freshman year so he started developing this other persona. He feels its working for him.

I know young adulthood is about trying on different personas and exercising different aspects of your personality. I also know that he'll probably experiment with a lot of behaviors I haven't seen at all or much of before. And while I'm not worried about him becoming this way permanently (actually I'm impressed that he recognizes what he's doing) I do think it speaks to the rigidity of masculine norms. I find it distressing in general that kind and caring young men don't fit in and that they need to act like jerks to be liked and respected. I can only hope that in time he realizes he doesn't like being this way and that popularity is not worth the act.

It took me many years to learn to surround myself with people who bring out the parts of me that I cherish and avoid the people who bring out the worst in me. I can only hope he comes to the same revelation.


Brian B said...

Not meaning to trivialize your concerns—not at all— but Angel will be FINE. D**chebags don't stress about telling an employer that they found a better gig; usually, the sidelined boss is lucky to get a phone call. I know this, for I was (and in many ways remain!) a d**chebag! And Hemingway—! Ha! KING OF THE D**CHEBAGS! Laugh out loud. Trust me, Angel will be fine.

Julie said...

I have never understood machismo. There are some well known poets and writers who do the same thing. Being polite and kind is laughed at as a weakness. That is a sad statement.

I wish I had known more people like Angel when I was in college.

Annie K said...

My son isn't known as a d**chebag, but, alas, he tends to keep himself aloof. He seems to think it's cool to be thought of as "dangerous," and he would be appalled to think that despite his perennial black band T-shirts, his pocket knives, and his white blond mustache and chin hair, he still has a baby face. Socially, he’s doing a little better this year, and he always has friends to talk to at school, including a few girls, but not a whole lot of friends outside of school. It’s interesting that your son is able to step outside of his relationships and see what’s going on.

Annie K said...

What I meant to infer, is that my son has the "baby face," and adults and probably kids, just consider him to be quiet and polite.