Nov 03, 2014

    There's hope yet for the Terrible 32s

    THE Terrible 32s are a perfectly normal stage in your youngish adult's development, characterised by cranky self-pity over the discrepancy between the life she has and the one she feels entitled to based on popular-culture narratives and her peers' achievements, such as those of Laura, who recently landed a big promotion, and maybe it's worth calling her to see if there's an opening at her company?


    The Terrible 32s typically commence when your youngish adult receives a "Help Us Celebrate Our New Brownstone!" Paperless Post invitation from Chloe and Josh and Li'l Aidan and Renoir (their Labradoodle).

    She realises that it falls on the same day as her 32nd birthday, which is just as well, since her apartment is too small to invite anyone over, and she kind of hates her friends now, anyway.


    Saying "no" to many reasonable suggestions, like how she might receive a job offer if she stopped wearing thrift-store T-shirts and noodling around on the computer and, instead, put on a nice blouse and looked through the classifieds.

    Pivoting from wanting to sell her eggs to suddenly getting scared by those articles about freezing them.

    Uncontrollable urges to write personal essays opening with Joan Didion epigraphs.

    OkCupid suitors include a 24-year-old who declares his preference for "older women", triggering a memory of her friend in college boasting of making out with a "cool 32-year-old lady" at a Phish show.

    Crying tantrums, often while drunkenly trawling through her former boyfriend Tom's Instagram feed.

    Complicated feelings about Lena Dunham, generally resolving in envy.


    If your 32-year-old accidentally "likes" her friend Amanda's sonogram on Facebook while hate-reading her wall, remind her that it is good manners to "like" the sonograms of each of her friends, who somehow all got pregnant in the last six months and now expect lavish baby shower presents even though they all married rich.


    Tell your 32-year-old you heard a story on NPR (formerly National Public Radio) that said lots of other youngish adults were also moving back in with their parents.

    It's really more embarrassing if she sulks in her room than if she doesn't say hello to all the dinner-party guests, especially the Whitmans, who'd love to see her and whose son Neil is also single and is a very successful CPA.


    Pass on the message that her friend Chloe called while she was sleeping till noon. She and her husband are looking for some help with their toddler, and they thought of her.

    Tell her to stop pouting - it's not "baby-sitting"; they called it an au pair position, and she should count her lucky stars even to be considered qualified. It's very challenging to take care of a two-year-old.


    Greathead is a writer in New York. Wayne is the author of the novels The Love Song Of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil.