Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Veruca Salt Sells Viagra to Her Parents (The Joys of Being 21)

Posted on | April 25, 2011 | No Comments

I’ll admit I’m not prone to enjoying strangers right now.

“Yes, her teeth are thicker. You know how she had thin teeth? They are thicker now. Mom, I can’t even begin to tell you what this will do for your life,” she says in a tone that brings to mind Sevngali as played by Veruca Salt.

“Veruca” has a belly button ring and a smile made of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. She is wearing hipster tight jeans and a leather jacket that would look perfect on a midget rock star. Veruca is a tiny enough twenty something to wear GAP Kids clothes with style. She is convincing enough that I too am wondering if I want thicker teeth.

“People have had their ailments cured, sleeping problems, stress, it deals with everything.  It does everything. Yes, it does. Yes it does, Mom. It’s ageloc vitality. The best. You’ll never have to age.”

Our scene is set in a coffee shop where douchebag writers share tables with friends and strangers alike. Sometimes it’s an old man with smell in his beard and other times it’s a beautiful woman who 45 minutes into the conversation begins discussing her boyfriend.  The people who run the coffee shop are a couple from some place North of Ontario, who fell in love and become adults together.  They are mid to late twenties, she used to be a ballerina and I expect he used to be less nice than he is now. They make fun of each other for the small mistakes they make, ready to take the last laugh on the other, so that if they make fools of themselves at least it’s the person they love most that does the laughing.

I’m currently suppressing my own laughter and its of a different breed.

“I called Dad,” says Veruca. “I told him that you were going to get a bottle and that he should order two.  Yes, I told him that because you will want to order at least one. I know that you want to be healthy. I know that you want to feel like you are 21 again. Can I tell you about what this will do for your libido? You’ll have so much libido. So much.  I told dad that he needed to get himself a bottle too. Because you will have so much sexual energy that if he doesn’t take one he’ll get left behind.”

I wrote Dad the strangest Father’s Day card threatening abandonment and I politely asked for his credit card information.

“Seriously you’ll have to upgrade dad unless he gots a bottle too. He’s already so much older than you. He is always calling himself an old man. He will get two if you get one and you’ll save 45 bucks. Yes, it’s one for 75 bucks and a 120 for two. Yes, that’s a deal. And it helps with everything. Did I tell you that they have a copy right on this mushroom they use in it? Yeah, only Ageloc can use it. And it’ll do pretty much everything. Yes, it will. So how many bottles do you want?”

I imagine the other side of the conversation.

Why are you crying, mom?

I’m just so proud of you.

“I take it myself. It’s crazy how it affects your  libido, Mom.”  Is this what the colony of losers comes to?  Do we have to play on our parents insecurities about aging and lessening of sexual desire to get our allowance for one more week?

How far will she go?

I was fucking three dudes and I loved it, Mom. You can do that. Be 21 just like me.

“So two bottles? One for you and dad? Not two for both of you? I mean it is a deal. I’m trying to help you.”

Long pause.

Every child who has had to ask their parents for money know this pause. Especially if they reside in the Colony and they understand how unreasonable it is to ask. When you are waiting for your parents to say something along the lines of, “Alright. You’re at an unreasonable age to be asking for this. It’s time to grow up.” And then they reluctantly agree and you wonder when that day will come. When you’ll have to drown for a while to actually learn how to swim. This isn’t that moment for our lovely supplement sales girl.

“Perfect mom. I love you so much.”

Phone clicks.

She looks over at me for a split second, possibly noticing that I have been typing like a madman during her entire conversation.

Do I ask about Ageloc and the mushrooms they have a copy right for?  Do I tell her how immensely disgusted I am to be in the same room with her?

“Hey Russ,” she says with a big smile.

My name ain’t Russ, cuzzo.

“How is it going?” asks a deep voice from behind me.

Enter Russ.  He has the voice of a bearded poet from Greenwich village, attending church meetings to fuck your youngest daughter. He is a sweetheart.

“I just sold four bottles of Agelock,” she says.

“Oh yeah? That’s good,” says Russ.

“It really works,” she says.

“So you are going to try to sell me?”

“Maybe.  I’m pretty good at it.”

“Do you take it?”

“Of course I do. My energy has been through the roof,” says Veruca, running her tongue over her lush tiger balm soaked lips. “And my libido has been crazy. How’s your libido?”  Her smile reminds me of Viagra pop up adds on porn sites.

“It’s fine. Anything happen with Rebecca?”

“No, she has a boyfriend.”

“Hasn’t stopped you before.”

“I can’t just sleep with everyone’s boyfriend.”

“You have been.”

“I hate when you talk like that.”

He grins at her with a smile that reminds me of a piranha.

“No you don’t.  I don’t bullshit you like everyone else.”

She recoils and the gentle violence of salesmanship slips from her. She slouches, puts away her cell phone and smiles.  Somehow she wondered out of the Ageloc Call Center and found herself in a coffee shop.

“That’s true.”

“I don’t judge you for being yourself. So come on….what’s the deal with Rebecca?”

A new salesman is in town.

“She is young.”

“How old are you?”

“21,” she says. “She is 18.”

“Age is just a number.”

Mom you can feel like you are 21 again.

“I’m not going to sleep with every girl I meet. She adores her boyfriend. They are like so cute together.”

“He doesn’t own her.”

“I know he doesn’t. Age is just a number? Are you some sort of ped?” she asks.  “It sounds like you are a ped.”

“I don’t like it when you talk to me like I’m some sort of pervert,” mutters Russ.

“I’m sorry. How’s your libido?”

“Haha. Pretty good. Not looking to fuck a child or anything. Last girl I was with was 41. Before that she was 21 she tells me. It’s the same experience. So what if she’s 18? You are 21 does that mean you are stupid and I’m taking advantage of you?”

“No one takes advantage of me,” she says.

“Probably not what your parents would say.”

“I don’t talk to my parents about that stuff.”

The next twenty minutes dissolve into the strange sexual degradation dance that sometimes develops between a man who is 29 and a girl who is 21. The bizarre interplay between the roles of father and daughter and lover. The strange seduction of both winning a father’s love and proclaiming that you don’t need it, the discussion of politics that becomes about the freedom of moving between extremes of behavior, the teasing lines of language that twist words and add double entendres into every sentence, the sly surrender of absolute morality that says: you know nothing, but might know enough to change me. The brutal beautiful beating of the ego that says I’m the only one who knows what a piece of trash you are and as such am the only person who could actually love you for you who you are.

At some points I feel he is stealing my mind, using my contempt and hatred as a weapon to whittle her down to nothing. Showing what she so easily becomes when she needs money. Using her sales tactics against her, showing how easy it is for her to break morally, to see if he can break something in her permanently.

While she was trying to use Ageloc Vitality to trick her parents into giving her allowance by selling the idea of being young forever, you can almost forget that she is 21 and her freedom is totally dependant on the mercy of other people.

That truly this is what she was trying to sell her mother. The same thing that every misogynist magazine ad directed toward women has been selling for years.  The calm and comfort of not having control over your own life. Of letting someone else do it for you.

Maybe because in our consumer culture there is something worth idolizing about a time in your life when you can have a credit card and not have a job. Unburdened, unrealized and unaware.

You can say that what she is really offering is that physical beauty of 21. To be in your physical prime where gravity has yet to make the beauty of today into the back pain of tomorrow.  Yet what woman knows her beauty before she sees it in pictures years later?  Does Veruca know that she is beautiful and has the power to change into pretty much whoever she wants to be. That anyone who says they can see the real you is really saying they know how to keep you the one person that is totally and completely vulnerable to their words. To make your sins into an agreement to never change and never leave.

Who knows their virtues until they pass into the confusion of nostalgia? Think of the vast arrays of Facebook photos with all your friends putting on their gangster face in their club clothes posing for their mid life crisis when they can dream of their youth without remembering it.

21 is the fiction that nothing controls us, because we don’t control our own lives yet. The forces which will bear down on us, are being held up by the strength of our parents, the debt we incur in university and the million snooze buttons of modern life. A world that will crash down on us the moment that Atlas shrugs.

21 is the warmth and amazing comfort of being owned by other people and not realizing it.

21 is bottled water being served under the brand name the fountain of youth.

Namaste, douchebags.

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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