You Can Go Home Again, But Then What? Solutions to the Boomerang Baby Problem
By David Infante
Are you a boomerang baby? If you open your refrigerator hoping to find light beer and a leftover burrito from the student center, only to discover non-fat Greek yogurt and V8 juice, you might be. If your car is full of Mom’s potted plants and Dad’s golf clubs instead of shrink-wrapped textbooks and a semesters’ worth of gym clothes, you might be. If you find yourself drinking alone on Saturday nights as you troll Facebook albums from spring breaks of years past, you are almost definitely a boomerang baby.
One out of every two college graduates under the age of 25 is un- or underemployed, according to a recent Associated Press report. Let that sink in: 53.6% of bachelor’s degree-holders (1.5 million American “adults”) are either jobless, or working a job for which they’re overqualified. From Brit Lit baristas, to Women’s Studies waitresses, to Urban Planners-cum-theater ushers, college grads across the country are struggling to find meaningful employment in this persistently terrible economy.
Sounds pretty grim, huh? Never you fear, recent matriculates! KoldCast TV’s brand-new comedy Boomerang Babies is here to cast a hilarious hue on the world of post-graduate existence. The light-hearted sitcom tracks three recent college grads who’ve been forced to move back in with their parents after briefly and unsuccessfully forging out on their own.
Like so many of their real-life counterparts, the Boomerang Babies – a moniker coined by the show for the leave-then-return-home trajectory of 20-somethings – don’t know what the hell to do with themselves in the post-college wasteland. In their never-ending quest to stay busy without hanging out with their overzealous parents, main characters Ben, Jake, and Laura have devised different plans.
Click to watch the Pilot Episode of Boomerang Babies
Jake’s plan: Pure disaffected apathy
Content to spend his days jumping on a trampoline in his parents’ backyard, Jake is the “typical smart kid with too much time on his hands”. He’s the one who came up with the term “Boomerang Baby Generation” to describe the way kids this age fly out into the world, only to come flying back. He thinks the world is no good, and he’s totally cool with that.
I think we all have at least one friend like Jake. My acquaintances have parents who’re either egregiously rich (thus providing a bankroll to facilitate their sloth) or monumentally disengaged (such that the kid never has to face the particular horror of interacting with their parents on a minute-to-minute basis). That said, some people really are just genuinely happier to sit on the sidelines and let other people go out and be successful. I say, if you’ve got the means to abdicate your responsibilities as a contributing member of society, more power to you. Just don’t come back in a few years begging for a job once the money runs out.
Laura’s plan: More school
The overachiever of the group is the good-looking Laura, a part-time model. Instead of getting down about her sub-par situation, Laura pours herself into seemingly productive pursuits, holding down three different jobs to gin up enough cash to go to nursing school.
She’s not alone — of all US matriculates in the past five years (including over 1.7 million in the Class of 2012), a staggering 60% thought they’d need more schooling to get a “good” job. Laura’s especially smart, because she’s going for a degree in a practical medical field. Hospitals always need nurses, whereas universities facing budget cuts may just decide that a Medieval History PhD just isn’t essential to the payroll. Nice work, Laura!
Ben’s plan: Get creative
The Harry Potter doppelganger that drives Boomerang Babies’ narrative is just as lost as his hapless degree-holding friends. But living with his pot-smoking, jive-talking, condom-gifting parents has given Ben some ideas, the most important of which is that no one should have to fill their days spending time with such crazy people.
Instead, he gets meta with a blog about the travails of living at home called, yep, “Boomerang Babies”. He’s going to get advertisers, “sell the f*cker”, and move out. As someone who spends a lot of his free time creating and updating random Tumblrs, I love the enthusiasm, Ben. Be forewarned, though — literally no one has contacted me yet to sell banners on my photoblog of George Clooney running.
Of course, these aren’t the only paths you can take if you’re clutching a diploma and unsure of what to do next. We’ve included some seasoned loafers’ favorite ways to pass the time between breakfast with Dad and dinner with Mom when you’re stuck at home.
Sell stuff on eBay
The key to surviving the gripping boredom of this time is having money to spend on the necessities: drugs, alcohol, and trips (see below). Your parents’ house is full of useless crap they won’t even miss. Unless they’re incredibly rare, books are worth nothing, so skip those. Odds are, your parents will notice if they come home one day and all the furniture is gone, so that’s out too. Instead, scour hidden or neglected areas like the attic and the basement. Start with hardware like skis and bikes then move on to a slightly used flat screen and Mom’s crystal stemware. She won’t even know it’s gone until Thanksgiving, and by that time you’ll hopefully be gone yourself.
Post-college journeys fall into a couple of categories. Firstly, you should be making weekend runs into the nearest city where your friends hold actual jobs. Drink away your unemployed sorrows with the enviable abandon of someone who doesn’t have to wake up for anything the next day besides an endless Bloody Mary brunch.
However, you should also travel farther afield than a proximate metropolis’ cheapest watering hole. Take a cross-country road trip through big cities you might not otherwise visit, and small towns that you can barely find on a map (Natchez, Mississippi. Check it out). Or go abroad to a country where you don’t know the language, or the customs, or whether the meat you just ate was lamb, or fish, or something else entirely.
Working makes you soft and stressed. And soft, stressed people generally want to drink 25 mimosas at the pool of a mega-resort, rather than get accosted by Slovenian border guards on a rickety overnight express. So sell a bunch of sh*t online, buy a plane ticket, and do it now.
Find a weird hobby
Hobbies will serve you well once you find meaningful employment (or, if you’re like Jake, throughout the rest of your happily unemployed life), so it’s best to lock some in now. Some obvious options include reading, working out, and watching every season of every show available. I do two out of these three things.
Deeper-cut stuff you may find pleasurable in your prodigious free time: spectating horseracing, going on aimless bike rides, filling in the crowd at under-attended TV talk shows in exchange for lunch, and BYOB painting lessons. That last one will give you a particular sense of accomplishment, and because no one can really tell you your art is bad, you’re basically a shoe-in to feel like you’re talented at something.
Whether you adopt Jake’s casual aplomb, Laura’s obsessive work ethic, or Ben’s admirable optimism, the point of Boomerang Babies is clear. No one knows what they want to do at this point in their life. Even – perhaps especially – the people who seem to have it all figured out. Living at home will make you stronger for when you move out on your own. Yes, this will happen eventually. Until then, as much as you can, savor the time spent with your parents when they’ve finally let their guard down and allowed you to see who they really are.
But yeah, definitely sell your Mom’s stemware. That stuff is mad expensive.
Then there’s Jason Bloom, a smart, ambitious, enterprising MBA grad who decided to open his own escort agency…
Watch Episode 1, “The World’s Oldest Profession”, of comedy series CandyGirls
David Infante is the Merchandising Editor at Thrillist. He’s a lover of reality TV, Rangers hockey, and Elmore Leonard stories. A graduate of UVA, his affinity for cheap beer is matched only by his staggering collection of button downs.