By Gerald Hausman

Santa Fe, NM, USA


Sometimes an author reaches back into the past and rummages for reasons why he or she did bad things, good things, and some things that last a lifetime.


Once in a blue moon, the story comes clear of the raveled craziness of teenage misbehavior. And then the author tells what growing up nuts really means. In this lovely, funny, goofy, loopy, secretive, schmaltzy, sweet and sensitive story, we see a successful artist as he once was – a person trying desperately to grow up and not quite making it.

All the steps to adulthood are there, if a bit entangled in first-love fantasies, bad moves in the theft department, mad fights in treehouses with the old gang, and misunderstandings about what happens to a grandparent who is dying.


My own father used to say, almost every day, as I was growing up – “Youth is wasted on young people.”


And I remember a chief of police looking me in the eye and saying, “Why are you wasting your life with these so-called friends of yours who just broke into a house and then, same night, robbed a liquor store? By the way, we found your wallet lying in the driveway of the house that got robbed.”


“What did they steal?” I asked the chief.


“Frozen porkchops,” he replied.


James B. Zimmerman’s excellent YA novel, Growing Up Meathead, is sprinkled with much of the same idiocy. So, growing up meathead means the same thing to James as it did to me. Why did we do those inane things?


Why does James snap the pretty girl’s bikini top only to get punched in the mouth?


Why the dangerous slingshot battles high up in the lofty treehouse?


The girlfriend got the upper hand, of course. Not just with her fist but also with a wet and nasty towel that she used as a bullwhip.


I had blood trickling out my nose. I put my towel to my face and blotted my nostrils. I saw the men’s room door beside me and hoped to get away from her through it. Unfortunately, once inside I found the doorway to the street was locked. I jostled the handle but it wouldn’t budge …


Why is it the perp never gets a clean getaway?


Why is he consigned to meathead status every time?


In this funny book we see as well as read the answers because Zimmerman has put in a lot of cool drawings of kids making mischief, and in their spare time, trying to grow up the hard way.


It is the grandfather who tells the boy, “A man is only as good as his word, Jimmy.”


Granddad also tells Jimmy, “There’s nothing lower than a thief. I hope you learned your lesson. No one trusts a thief.”


This is a pictorial novel loaded with simple wisdom and accidents of the growing-up kind.


Fortunately, the talented author makes it to the promised land of futurity and maturity, so we may expect, and hope, for more such meathead misdemeanors and the corrective lessons that follow.


It’s a fun book, full of soft pencil drawings that capture the innocence and goofiness that we all probably remember and sometimes like to forget.




Gerald Hausman


Gerald Hausman is an award-winning, bestselling author and storyteller.  His new book, Mystical Times at Noel Coward's - Nights and Days in Jamaicawas released in September 2020.


All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.