Adults Only

My mom never let me lift weights when I was younger, because she was afraid I'd stunt my growth. Yet, Italian genetics prevailed, and I stopped growing when I was 14 or 15 years old anyway. I suppose that's no excuse for immaturity, but as much as I still think of myself as a kid, chronologically I'm not. While I spend nearly every waking hour in front of a computer or television screen, “kids” my age are raising kids of their own. Every now and then I realize I've fallen into some adult habit, like my three or four o'clock cup of coffee, without which I'm useless in the afternoon. Coupled with five or six sugars and a packet of Peanut M&M's, it's really not that adult of a practice after all. It's not like caffeine is going to affect my growth now, but I probably could stand to cut back on the sugar. I guess if I've realized anything in looking back on my life, and occasionally forward, it's that maturity and adulthood is all relative. We're kind of all still growing, and in life we substitute one thing for another, coffee for ice cream, office work for school work, and so on. Change is an illusion of perception, at times largely cosmetic or superficial. In my endless roaming about the internet, I've come across some interesting questions on the subject of being an adult, or a reasonable facsimile:

1) How old are you?
Exactly 428 months.

2) Are there times you still feel like a kid?
Every day. And then there are those sobering moments when I catch my reflection in a mirror and see a wrinkle, receding hairline, or gray hair, and wonder when the hell that happened.

3) Do you miss being a child?
Sometimes I miss having the Summer off and thinking of those as my least busy months. I remember when I thought homework was hard and overwhelming. I remember when there were good cartoons on every day after school, and on Saturday mornings. There's a lot I don't miss about being a child though, so as much as I cling to my youth, I do like some of the freedom I have as an adult, in those less hectic moments when I find the time to go to a movie or drive to some park and just roam through the woods.

4) Were you the type of kid you would want your children to hang out with?
Yes I was, because I gravitated toward kids like myself, kindred spirits, people who shared my interests and sense of humor, around whom I could be myself, not be self-conscious, and not worry about getting judged.

5) Where was the hang out spot when you were a teenager?
My block was the place to be. It was nice having an enclosed neighborhood within which to ride bikes, play basketball or football, or just sit on someone's front steps.

6) Looking back at high school were they the best years of your life?
I got a good education and I'm grateful to my parents for getting me away from the dangers and distractions of our local public high school, but I still hated being sent to an all-boys high school where I had to wear a jacket and tie every day. At times it felt like prison, and the bullies were simply better dressed, and more versed in psychological than physical warfare. College is where I spent the best years of my life.

7) How many colleges did you attend?
One was enough for a career in graphic design, although I'm never opposed to the occasional lecture, seminar, or online course to brush up and keep up with changing technology.

8) At this point in your life would you rather start a new career or a new relationship?
I can see my career evolving, maybe branching off into different areas of design, but I couldn't start something completely different at this point in my life and start over from scratch. Relationships are hard too, and as I get older I spend more time between relationships than in them. I think we get to a point in life where we settle into a routine, and if we can't envision life being any different, we stay in our comfort zone and do nothing to change it.

9) Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
Sometimes I'll see guys getting berated for things like leaving a toilet seat up and think I've dodged more than my share of bullets. I don't know if marriage is for me, but it worked for my parents for almost 40 years now and I definitely believe in the unity and teamwork when two halves form a whole, and the strengths of one cover the weaknesses of another.

10) What bill do you hate paying the most?
Taxes, which cost me well over $2,000.00 this year. My credit card bill isn't fun around the holidays either, but there's something about paying online that doesn't feel like I'm spending money. It's when I actually write out a check for something big that I really feel the pain.

11) What are your thoughts on gas prices?
They used to bother me more before I got a credit card, when I'd pay cash. I also used to get $10.00 worth per visit, so I noticed when that stopped getting me through a week. Now I put my credit card in, fill it up, and don't think about it. When I start going to the gas station more than once a week, I guess I'll notice and it will start bothering me again.

12) What about you do you think has changed the most?
People who met me later in my life would be surprised to hear me say I'm less shy now than when I was a kid, but there was a time when I would have been incapable of making phone calls throughout the day or opening my mouth during a meeting. I might still freeze up when faced with an overwhelmingly pretty girl, but there was a time when I'd freeze up around any human being that wasn't a close friend or immediate family.

13) Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
Actually, it's too warm to be wearing a shirt. What you think is a shirt isn't something I chose at all, it comes from those aforementioned Italian genetics. I guess this could have worked as an answer to the previous question, since the hair on my head to hair on my body ratio has been steadily transposing.

14) What errand/chore do you despise?
I used to hate mowing the lawn, and I still hate the sneezing fits and blades of grass when I blow my nose afterwards, but I like the physical labor and getting exercise. Shovelling snow is probably worse, since between my yard and my dad's lot I never spend more than an hour cutting grass, but some of the bad snow storms we had this year kept my out there for 8 or 9 hours.

15) Get up early or sleep in?
I've been doing both. I get up early, eat breakfast, then take a nap for about 15-20 minutes. I probably should just wake up 15 minutes later and stay up, but for some reason I feel like I'm getting a “bonus” this way. It's also been making me 15-20 minutes late for work, so I may need to get up earlier the first time if I'm going to go back to sleep.

16) Have you ever crashed your vehicle?
No, but I was rear-ended on two separate occasions a few years apart while driving the same car, and once I was a passenger when a minivan slammed into the side of my dad's car and spun us around. None of those experiences were fun.

17) Did you have a pager?
My pager was my mom opening the door and screaming my name, and there would be hell to pay if I wandered off the block or out of range of hearing the dinner summons. I didn't even have a cell phone until my late 20s.

18) Ring tone?
At some point I switched it to vibrate when I went to the movies, and I've never turned the volume back on. I know whatever I used with my first cell phone reminded me of 8-bit video game music.

19) Who do you think impacted your life the most?
My parents. My old music teacher. And bullies with solid fists. And bad drivers. And the typeface ”IMPACT”....

22) Do you tell stories that start with “when I was your age”?
I'll say “When I was younger”, or “When I was in Middle School/High School/College” or “When I worked at _________”, but I think for the most part I don't find myself in those kinds of conversations with anyone more than ten years younger. When I do, it will probably be with kids of my own, and I'll officially have become my dad. And I’d be happy with that fate.


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