Suburban adults don't realize their life is their prison. A locked cage of responsibility. Work the job, save for retirement, send the kids to college, have thirty minutes of sex twice a week, eat well, go to church, visit your neighbors. Every day of every week of every month of every year, forever. They mustn't think about it much, for the sake of their sanity. They hide it from themselves so well that if you mention it to most of them, you get a blank look and the reply "but I really enjoy my life!"

They're lying. Witness the plastic surgery, SUVs, quiet alcoholism, television, driving fast on the highway, cheating on taxes, cheating on spouses, midlife crises. Mindless destructive consumption, to recapture a youth they didn't enjoy having the first time around. Fantasies of escape vivid in their eyes; as much as they can't admit it to themselves, they'd rather be somewhere (anywhere), or someone (anyone) else. But they've taken their lot and chosen their path. They've done it all to themselves, so they convince themselves that they enjoy it, or risk exposure to dangerous novelty.

Perfectly and individually designed torture by endless boredom, with each of them convinced it's what they want.

Also, in suburbia there is always at least one child for every adult. The children don't start out with the defense mechanisms the adults all have, though. They can see the prison and the prisoners for what they are, but can do zero about it. Thus they are prisoners too, and in a worse prison than their parents, for they can see the bars.

Some of them adapt the same way their mothers and fathers did, by making believe that everything will be okay. They play games with balls and lead cheers and make the honor roll and date somebody nice. They know the pain will be over soon; soon they'll be happy, smiling adults with their very own mortgaged house and SUV and two children. They usually get their wish.

Others are too sensitive to walk that route; the bars are just so solid and black and hopeless that they can't be ignored. They realise ignoring the steel only makes it stronger, and try to find a way through. They try drugs, college, crime, extreme looks and ideas, and doing whatever is opposite to their parents' wishes. If you ask them, they're "living their own life" and "doing whatever they want." They're totally convinced of their freedom, as convinced as their elders and peers.

They hide the prison by acknowledging it, and pretending they want out. But always in their hearts is the knowledge that their "rebellious phase" will someday be over. Someday their biological clock will catch up to their lifestyle, and they'll take a spouse and have a child, and get a nice house in a nice neighborhood of a nice town. It's inevitable for them too, it just takes a few extra years.

The inevitability is the saddest part, really. The fact that so achingly few suburbanites will ever get out. So few will ever find a life they never expected, but still love. And, conversely, so many will end up with the life they always expected, but can't admit that they hate. A life as a clean-cut, happy, respected, productive member of suburban society: a pig, in a cage, on antibiotics.