Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gorging on Up

Recently, at my daughter's urging, I got a Netflix account. When she gorged on Nip/Tuck. I was censorious: "Get off the couch!" "You'll need a nip/tuck if you don't move your ass!" "I'm going to change the password if you don't take a break!" But then I fell victim to Michael Apted's Up documentary series, which follows 14 Brits at seven-year intervals from ages 7 to 49. I gobbled up the whole 14 or so hours in a week.

The slogan for the series is "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man." At some points, some of the kids go off their rails—conventional upper-class Suzy drops out of school at 16, and sprightly Neil in his teens falls into what turns out to be a permanent depression—but most appear to live out in event and experience and character the destiny that revealed itself when they were 7. 

It made me wonder what my life might look like if captured at seven-year intervals. Apted pursued questions that ran roughly: What do you do in your free time? How do you see yourself as an adult? Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Do you want a family?

At 7: I was a garrulous student who was frequently sent into a corner by my teacher, Mrs. Keepers, because of my disruptive chatting. If asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said I wanted to be a ballerina, not because I'd ever had a ballet lesson but because that's what little girls said in 1957. No boyfriend, though I did have a crush on a boy named Chris. Did I want a family? I don't think so. That would involve sex. Eww.

At 14: A competitive swimmer who trained five hours a day but was sidelined by painful and copious menstrual periods five days a month, I was big for my age and shy. My best friend had a "make-out" party and didn't invite me. I was humiliated—and relieved. Still had a crush on Chris, but he was in the regular track, and I was in the honors track. My career goal was to be a writer. I read a lot. I would have said no to marriage and family. I wanted to be a hermit.

Stay tuned for age 21—or rent Up on Netlix.


Robin Amos Kahn said...

Oh, I saw the first few installments of Up, I'll have to see the rest. Thanks for reminding me.

Mia said...

Beware! I got hooked!