Losing the Adult Game

Osmel Almaguer

Artist Fuster's house on the outskirts of Havana. Photo: Rafique

The people who surround me are increasingly serious.  Their faces contract increasingly.  They spend increasingly more time with unfriendly looks.  They remain increasingly silent.  Their silence is interrupted only by laconic comments in whispers.

Their eyes adopt an expression of complicity, as if one of malice, in one of those moments comparable to happiness.

For me happiness is another thing – it’s spontaneity, sincerity and even innocence.  When I was little I found adults boring and sad; they were always in bad moods.  Along with my friends, who of course were also kids, I would spend long stretches laughing at any silly thing.  We were in no way obligated to sustain some posture with the aim of looking like something we weren’t.

When we grew up everything changed.  In high school, being “immature” —or at least appearing to be so in the eyes of girls or guys— was the worst thing that could happen to anyone.  But since in fact we were no more than children, after all, the best thing we could do was to act, to put ourselves in the roles of adults, to play like being grownups.

For me that was the first discovery that things are not always what they seem to be.  It was impossible that from one day to the other my friends changed so radically.  Evidently it was all a game of illusions, one in which I was reluctant to take part in.

Maintaining the appearance of seriousness was the essential element.  Repressing one’s feelings and spirits was the price you had to pay to be accepted by others.

A good while later I discovered the malice and cunningness of people.  It was no longer enough to have a stiff posture and to, in every moment, reproduce expressions and phrases that seemed straight out of a catalog.  It was necessary to take the game to the extreme of manipulating others without being manipulated; this would give you preponderance, the ingredient necessary for winning respect and girls.

In addition to being difficult, this was unacceptable to me.

With the years, I’ve discovered new facets of the adult game – sometimes as a perpetrator, but mostly as a victim.  Perhaps here is where resides my interest in maintaining this piece of a boy that I still carry inside.  I no longer stand so many bitter faces and pretending eyes conspiring around me.  And I had thought that the game was only for adolescents…

I no longer need to seem like adult, because I am one.  Now what I need is to seem like a boy.  That’s why I walk in search of a few little friends.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

One thought on “Losing the Adult Game

  • It’s absolutely true what Marx is so famous 4 proving: that at base, our entire lives R conditioned by our material, environmental circumstances far more than we reciprocate & affect those same circumstances, in our actions/inaction. As I keep pointing out 2 those disaffected cubans writing these essays: most of your complaints have essentially the same material basis: the poverty of the island, living under its regimen of a 1/2century of malevolent economic, political & psychological warfare directed at it by World Imperialism.

    If U understand dialectical-materialism, U understand that the Universe is open-ended & evolving; & that the social human animal is itself a being with an open-ended life experience — which can B either enriched & satisfying, or something much less. & I guess so many of U have lost faith in that open-ended possibility 4 human society.

    But I ask U: what’s the alternative, really? Capitalism really is slavery. So what if U get 2B an overseer?

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