Your Quarter Life Crisis!

Lots of drugs, not much sex, and a general fear and loathing mark these tales of twenty-something angst.

Which brings us, more or less, to today. Here I am. In front of God, the DMV and my very own mother admitting I've had my license revoked for more years than I've actually had it in service. And once and for all, I am going to be grown up. I am going to get my driver's license before I turn thirty. But the thought of standing in line with a gaggle of pimply-faced fifteen-year-old punks who are in the exact same lack-o-license predicament is making my head hurt. The subsequent thought of my co-workers wetting their pants in gales of hysterical laughter when I fail the test is just too much. In my heart of hearts, I know I need to get it together and go take the test. And I will. Just not today.

Anonymous is a real Minneapolis native who has also written a screenplay, a television pilot and a whole lot of other things that may well never see the light of day. She's trying really hard to have this whole "car thing" sorted out in early 2003. She lives in northwest Denver with her husband, two dogs and a ghost named Elizabeth.

Brian Taylor

Two Reasons for Quarter-Life Angst

By Nate Stone

Reason one:

I was walking to the liquor store with my head tucked into the collar of my coat to dodge the wind. It had snowed two days previously. For about a block, I had been hearing a loud moaning, like someone had been hit by a car or beaten and left for dead. Huddled in the alcove of a building on Broadway was a guy in a wheelchair. He was missing his right leg, his pants tied in a soiled knot at the knee. The only coat he apparently had was a red windbreaker, which he had pulled up to his hairline, and the moaning was coming from somewhere inside its distended chest. It was far too cold.

I asked him if he was all right and immediately felt like an asshole. Moaning is generally a good indication that someone is not all right and, in fact, has some pretty serious problems. He made no reply. I walked a bit closer and asked him again. He was shaking so hard you could hear the fabric snap taut and then relax in his jacket. He didn't say anything. Some art-institute kids at the bus stop across the street had started to stare. I walked on to the store.

He was still there when I left the liquor store. A homeless couple had stopped to talk to him, but he didn't speak to them, either. They offered him a cigarette. When he didn't respond, they told him to stay warm and where a shelter was. They walked away. I walked home.

It sounds trite and cliche, but I swear that bottle of gin kept getting heavier and heavier in my hands. I couldn't stop thinking about the cold, his thin coat, his missing leg, his moaning. I opened the door to my apartment, set down my booze on the kitchen table and opened the closet to hang my coat. Two others I hadn't worn for more than a year were hanging in there.

So I walked back, two coats and a ratty hat under my arm, squatted down in front of the man in the wheelchair, who was still moaning and shaking, and said hello. He stopped moaning, but his head never came out of his coat. I told him I had brought some extra layers for him, that he should put them on, it was cold. A new crowd of people were staring at us from across the street. I had some fleeting vision of countless people walking by and staring at this poor, cold guy in a wheelchair until I appeared and heroically stepped up to my duties as his fellow man. I then remembered that there's nothing heroic in giving someone a coat you don't wear. It would be closer to heroic to give someone a coat you really loved, I thought, or, better yet, your only coat -- and then I noticed that the man in the wheelchair was pissing himself.

It was rolling down what was left of his leg and hitting the ground and pouring across the sidewalk, and I muttered "Jesus" under my breath and stood up. I told him I was going to leave the coats there, but that he should put them on. When I leaned over to lay the coats in reach of his wheelchair, he shuddered in his seat.

"Fucking die!" he screamed in a thick, guttural voice.

I leaned back, confused.

"Fucking die!" he screamed.

Maybe he doesn't want the coats, I thought.

"Fucking die!" he screamed.

"I'll just leave these here," I said.

"Fucking die!" he screamed.

I put the coats down. It occurred to me that the people at the bus stop were staring again, and I felt like I had suddenly stumbled upon a sound stage or woken up from a dream. I walked to the liquor store and used the phone to call the drunk tank. The guy behind the counter tried to thank me as I left. "Thanks for looking out for that guy," he said. I felt like shit. I went home and got drunk.

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