Saturday: glastonburyyouth

I woke up Saturday morning expecting all of my plans with the Gay Guru to get canceled thanks to the snow panic! We had decided to spend our Saturday watching rich kids ruin their lives, and countering that with a trip to Tommy’s Restaurant for a holiday party. While snow doesn’t generally strike terror in my heart, it does inspire laziness so I was sort of hoping the state would declare a state of emergency so I could just lay on the couch and drink tea. But alas…Old Man Winter conspired against me, and despite warnings that we’d be snowed in for days, it still hadn’t started snowing when we left to catch the 7:30 showing of glastonburykids at Cinestudio in Hartford.

To be honest, we felt a little obligated to go see this movie: we were once Glastonbury kids, after all. Well, kind of. I don’t mean I was ever a reckless, rich kid who thought it was funny to injure myself, endanger the lives of others by throwing stuff at cars on highways, or ruin the night of a convenience store clerk by totally f*ing up his stuff. At first, I’ll admit, I kind of identified with the kids in the movie. I was never a drinker in high school, nor have I ever been prone to spending large portions of my life getting stoned. So, I too felt a bit out of place in Glastonbury–and with many of my peers in college and beyond–but I’ve always been able to entertain myself in productive ways. But then the kids started drinking, and becoming destructive in ways that basically made me want to tell people I’m from East Hartford.

In other words, they lost me. The same sense of entitlement that annoyed me about my classmates growing up was still present in the youth of Glastonbury. A few of them, at least, seemed to realize just how stupid and obnoxious they had been once they’d been arrested and kicked out of school. So, they’ve got that going for them.

We walked away from the movie with one impression: if these kids had been poor, there would have been a completely different ending. Had they ever worried about real gang violence they probably wouldn’t have been pretending to be a gang, and had they ever been without health insurance, they would have been more careful with their own personal safety. At the very least, they might have had actual JOBS and therefore have had little time to act like heathens. There wouldn’t have been a house to mortgage for bail money, or spending money to buy a van with the specific goal of crashing it. If the kids in this movie had been less privileged it wouldn’t have ended with trips to India or getting to go to college on the other side of the country.

Despite the cringe inducing subject matter–they actually pick up poop and fling it around, probably spreading disease among their other crimes–we’d like to congratulate the filmmaker, Justin Donais, on what is basically an accurate portrait of the young geniuses produced by the millions of tax dollars being funneled into Glastonbury’s schools. Certainly, a few of us make it out of this town without becoming drug-addicts, criminals, or general masters of the universe (I was friends with most of those people who graduated between the years 1998 and 2000) so I would have been interested to see an interview with those people. You know, the ones who don’t have to get arrested, or expelled to realize they are lucky ones, and not only work to live up to the standards their parents have set, but also give back to the communities around them without being ordered to by the courts.

But Donais also captured one of the most unintentionally funny, and honest statements ever made on camera. At the very beginning when he’s interviewing a woman–who I think is his mother, and who must be a realtor–talking about what a wonderful place Glastonbury is to raise your kids, she says something like, “If you’re a grown-up in Glastonbury, you talk to other grown-ups about your kids.” That is to say, adults in Glastonbury are so kid-obsessed that they have no lives of their own. I’m sure G-burg didn’t invent “helicopter parenting,” but sometimes it seems like it did, and as much as I hate watching people throw away their lives, I do like imagining the faces of parents as they watch it.

I imagine this is the thought process going through their heads: I work hard at a job I hate; I struggle through mountains of debt to pay for the house we live in, the Saab (or Volkswagen) you drive, and the insurance that’s through the roof because you’re a reckless driver. My life revolved around you and your soccer practices for 10 years, until you quit thirty minutes into your high school practice, all so you can curse me under your breath and defecate in public becoming a complete and utter embarassment to me…making it completely impossible for me to brag about you to my “friends.” Thanks a lot, you little bastard.

But we knew what we were getting into with this movie. We did, sort of, live it. What we weren’t quite prepared for–though we probably should have been–was the audience. I’m often horrified by the youth, but I was especially annoyed on this particular evening. Waiting for the movie to start we were subjected to a conversation that included a lot of talk about punching someone in the balls, and planning just how they were going to go about getting drunk that evening. These guys put more strategy into getting wasted than George W. Bush did into the entire Iraq war.  The true disappointment came after the movie, though, when some complete jackhole (no, that’s not a real word) asked one of the guys something to the effect of: “How’s having AIDS working out for you?”

Yeah, ’cause AIDS is always funny.

And with that, I’ll urge you to stay tuned/come back for the second part of “Saturday” and hear all about our big gay, snow-bound adventure.