Even the friskiest satirists of Gen X seem to have realized that they too are subject to aging, the raw material for every comic writer’s stock in trade. Here, journeyman humorist, campus lecturer, and radio commentator Zevin takes his turn at trying on an ill-fitting mask of maturity.
Acting grown up, Zevin (Entry-Level Life, not reviewed) has a wife, a dog, and long pants. Indeed, pants serve as the dominant theme in these antic essays. Sweat pants, corduroys, Levis, relaxed-fit jeans, and diverse trousers du jour are dropped, so to speak, at various opportunities in the text. And why not? Plural at one end and singular at the other, pants are admittedly funny. Zevin’s diverting humor flows easily, from his efforts to prepare interesting material to present in sessions with his shrink to his plans to acquire a Roth IRA like all the other grown-ups . . . as soon as he figures out what a Roth IRA is. Like the other big kids, he tries his hand at golf, sailing on the Charles River, and even teaching. He attends a kiddy etiquette class. (Happily, it doesn’t moderate his language, which remains boisterous Gen-X palaver.) He chronicles his coming of age in a series of confessions: his fondness for a home appliance, attendance at a wine-tasting, and similar nasty revelations. He’s a coffee hound. He owns a Zagat Survey. He’s learned not to eat a microwaved burrito before exercise class. He even considers (in a monologue that sounds like a demented version of “Soliloquy” from Carousel) how it might be to be a father. He claims, as “a professional shut-in, or ‘self-employed person’ ” to be “exempt from all dress codes.” But that only brings us back to pants.
A pointed guide to growing up that will be funny to those who have accomplished it (more or less), as well as those who have yet to attempt it.