Rejuvenile by Christopher Noxon  

imageChristopher Noxon is an author, journalist and brand consultant. As a journalist, he has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Salon and Playboy. He has worked as a music supervisor and market strategist on the rejuvenile mindset. He lives with his wife and three children in Los Angeles.

An archive of his published work is available here.

From the introduction to Rejuvenile:

Growing up, I always had a pretty clear idea of what it would be like to be an adult. My adult self was always, it seems, gripping something—a steering wheel, a coffee mug, a carving knife. Unlike the twitchy, loudmouthed kid I was, my adult self was confident, serious, commanding. I reached conclusions, made decisions, took charge. I wasn’t sure when I’d take possession of all those great props and wondrous powers, but I liked to think that one day soon my turn would come and I’d be pulled aside, presented with a leather-bound rule book, and sent out to get on with the serious business of adulthood.

The book failed to materialize on my eighteenth birthday, or on my twenty-first, or at any of the events that supposedly signal the onset of adulthood. I had somehow managed to finish school, get married, and start a career without ever feeling particularly grown up. I couldn’t deny the rapidly mounting evidence that I wasn’t a kid anymore—a receding hairline, a slowing metabolism, a wife, two children, and a late-model minivan. But amid all this, I found myself drawn to ostensibly childish things. At twenty-five, I rediscovered kickball, joining a group of other adults in a local park on Sunday afternoons to play a game we all learned as school kids. At thirty, I loafed around the house in Converse All Star sneakers and an Oscar the Grouch T-shirt. At thirty-five, I read books about a wizard named Harry and watched a cartoon about a sea sponge named SquarePants.

Even parenthood didn’t put an end to my childlike ways. If anything, caring for small children gave me license to try things the adulthood rule book would surely list as felonies—tag-playing, paint-splattering, popsicle-eating. I was thus forced to recognize the plain but painful fact that playing with kids is not the same thing as being a kid. My children’s experience stacking Legos or watching cartoons was plain and pure; mine was spiked with kitsch, a small swirl of rebellion, and a vague sense of shame. At thirty-five, shouldn’t my interests have been more sensible—mutual funds, say, or lawn care? What was an otherwise well-adjusted and relatively responsible adult getting out of PlayStation, green popsicles, or the Muppets? Shouldn’t I have outgrown all this by now?

It was from that seed of doubt that this book took root. Talking first to friends and peers and then going out and doing two years of intensive research, I was first relieved—then genuinely shocked—to discover how many likeminded adults there were. People all over have simply stopped acting their age. I came to think of the border between adulthood and childhood as a Cold War checkpoint, once spotlit and armed, now unguarded and porous. Today there is simply no sanction against childlike enthusiasm, little shame in childish impulsiveness, no one to stop us from maintaining and cultivating pleasures that adults of yesteryear were pressured to abandon the moment they entered the workforce. It’s worth noting what we’ve lost in the process (fedoras were spiffy; civility is always nice), but there’s no denying how much freedom adults have gained. The spectacle of fully grown adults behaving like toddlers or teens might seem comical, even undignified, but let’s be honest: traditional adulthood didn’t do us many favors.