On one of the latter episodes of "The Sopranos," Tony Soprano and his lieutenant, Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri, take a trip to Florida to escape police pressure in Jersey. As the two need to remain anonymous on their escape from the law,Tony continues to worry about his partner's talkativeness, as Paulie chats up bellhops, businessmen, and other strangers. When Paulie tells stories about him and Tony engaging in some not so-legal behaviors to some young women they are dining with, Tony gives Paulie the evil eye and excuses himself from the table, making the cryptic remark that " 'Remember when' is the lowest form of conversation."
If Tony is a sage, then I think that the 30s are the start of a downward spiral. You might even argue that the end of college is the beginning of this downward spiral, as the days pining for very little responsibility, very little accountability, and an astonishing amount of independence often start hours after graduation.
In an oxymoronic way, my good friends and I started missing the carefree college life before we graduated. Aware that college was but a four-year stop, a vacation of sorts in the middle of a working life, we reminded ourselves on a regular basis, especially during senior year, to savor this time. How do you do savor something? Is it possible to actively do this?
An extreme example of "Remember when" inhibiting one's adult growth is Uncle Rico of "Napoleon Dynamite." A thirtysomething groveling for work and seeming to live out of a van that would make Matt Foley proud, Rico is not above mooching steaks off Napoleon's family and hawking questionable Tupperware to naive buyers. Sneaking peeks at his flexed biceps whenever he can, Rico is stuck in 1982. While sitting outside with his nephew showing off his quarterback's arm, Rico talks about his coach's inability to put him in during the fourth quarter of a key high school game.
"We coulda won state that year if he'd played me," Rico says, gazing into nothing and speaking more to himself than to his nephew.
In case anyone doubts his prowess, Rico carries around a tape of himself, some twenty years after high school, dropping back and throwing the football. Ready to show the video at the slighest show of interest (or disinterest, in his nephews' case), Rico is an easy target as a joke.
It has been said that behind every joke, there is a seed of truth. We all know our own Uncle Ricos.
Just don't call me "Rico Flaco."