And so Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino gave his State of the County address a few days ago and it was an insufferable as any throw-in-the-kitchen-sink political address of our modern era, with its characteristic portions of boilerplate, platitudes and pandering we’ve come to expect from politicians of all political stripes.
But buried deep within, he said something that might interest residents of both Westchester and Connecticut; something I’ve been thinking about ever since.
Noting that it was his third year in office, Mr. Astorino joked that it was his "junior year," before adding: "It sounds a little funny, but as we all know, the older we get, the more life feels like we just keep repeating high school."
Say what? We’re repeating high school until the abyss? Can he be right? Maybe that’s why Connecticut doesn’t have county executives, but is Westchester’s right? Are we all doomed to such a fate?
This isn’t a normal sort of political claim. After all, we’re used to politicians trying to sell us false bits of goods or simply mollify us, but this was a rarity: a politico haunting us about how we have our foot caught in the door of the period of life defined by unrequited passion, histrionics with friends and pimples the size of Buicks.
I’m not saying I deplored every day of high school and it was a total teenage dystopia, but I’d rather put sticks in my eyes than repeat it in perpetuity.
Once, it took me months to gin up the courage to talk to a girl I liked. When she proved disinterested, I was unable to speak for weeks. Another time, I came late to the SATs and everyone laughed. Another setback.
Even Freud, who was a bit of a downer when it came to our ability to escape the past, only said that we repeat child hood patterns. Mercifully, he -- unlike certain local political hacks -- didn’t specify high school.
Who is right? It’s probably a circular argument, but I caught my ninth grade daughter and her friend walking home from school and asked them if the meaning of life was high school. “I certainly hope not,” said my daughter. Her friend added with a shudder: “Why would you even say that?”