Living the dream
Colin Duffy sounds like a dreamboat. He knows what he wants in life, comes from a loving family and likes to have deep conversations. He seems like a perfect catch! It’s just too bad he thinks girls are stupid and is obsessed with video games. Oh yeah, and he’s only ten years old.
Susan Orlean’s feature “The American Male at Age Ten” is a humorous, touching look at a child who desperately wants the American Dream. Colin appears to have his life all planned out: attend Oklahoma City State College University, work for the FBI and move to the country in Wyoming where he can have “every kind of cute animal”. He has so many goals for a kid who currently wants to learn how to drive in order to buy candy and wants to be married so he can sleep in his clothes. Colin has many goals and ambitions for someone at such a young age; however, this article was written in 1979. Children today grow up even faster and lose innocence even sooner than they ever did before. Yet the childhood naiveté that Orlean so wonderfully illustrates through Colin’s story can still be found in kids today–just not necessarily in the same way.
The ambiguous point of view from which Orleans approaches Colin’s story allowed me to connect even more with Colin and with Orlean herself. Thanks to her use of amusing detail and vivid quotes, I felt like I really got to know Colin through reading this story. I got so caught up in Colin’s hilarious personality that I was caught off guard every time he said something so profound and beyond his years, as kids often do. Orlean’s writing flows beautifully, and at the same time she incorporates funny anecdotes and quotes that make the story so enjoyable to read; I realized after only a few paragraphs that I was smiling to myself as Colin said or did something hilarious and typical of a ten-year-old boy.
This story not only showed me how much times have changed in the past 30 years, but also reminded me how wonderful the innocence of youth truly is. Oh, how I miss the days when I played pretend in my backyard without a care in the world. Thank you, Susan Orlean, for taking me back to the blissful days when I still thought boys were smelly (which is still often true, ironically) and the most I had to worry about was the what was on the dinner menu. In a way, that sounds like my idea of the American Dream right now.