K is a 25 year-old Canadian. Perversely, his thinning blond hair does not quite match his surfer-toned body nor his penchant for t-shirt, shorts and sneakers. Living two units away, I often see him zip by on his skateboard. My friend M, with whom he lives, says he is never without his "boards." A 25 year-old man trapped in a 15 year-old's body, K is from a well-to-do family. Obviously, otherwise he wouldn't be able to afford schooling in Australia's most expensive university. Endless partying is the the refuge of the carefree. Rid of cares, rid of responsibilities, rid of worry. How infinitely banal life would be for those who have been liberated of need and want. Happiness is elusive, thus the constant need to be entertained.
"Pop culture," as it is sold in rich countries, is awash with the needs, wants and desires of youth. Deferred gratification is non-existent for the emotionally immature, and so children - regardless of age - make the best customers. Start them young and you can feed their infantile fantasies for a lifetime. The rich are so obsessed with youth, they must dress and look the part. Cosmetic surgery is improving as the quirks of demand must be satisfied by quality supply. No age in human history has been so afraid of death and growing old. We are doing criminally unnatural things to stem the natural cycle of life. 12 year olds are used to sell women's fashion. Clad in provocative dress, rouged lips are beacons of the wanton. Living for the moment in a country with an epidemic of pedophilia, the desire for youth equals cannibalising the young.
Youth is a luxury most precious. It should priceless but it is not. What does it cost to be young? To yearn for four o'clock in the afternoon for permission to play outside, safe from the harsh afternoon sun. To dread school chores, to worry about the monggo seeds, to pick which playmates would make the best patintero team. To fashion improvised drums and tambourines and count the treasures of karoling. To eat, sleep, play and agonise over Milo or Ovaltine. What does it cost never to have to worry for your family's livelihood, for your father or mother or siblings? What does it cost to lay safe in bed at night, thinking only of the the coming day to visit the next-door neighbours and their newborn puppies? What does it cost to be child?