So I celebrated a birthday last Tuesday.
It’s a neat little date, all nice and tidy: Feb. 10. It’s well-rounded, and occurs in the exact month when nothing else fun does. Don’t give me “Valentine’s Day” as something noteworthy, because Hallmark doesn’t need its ego stroked any more than usual (and everyone’s just looking to dine out). I would normally say that February is the month of obligatory president recognition days, but what with Lincoln’s Galesburg celebrity, it might be more than obligatory in these here parts. I await the belated festivities.
The point is, I love having a February birthday. It is a particularly grim stretch of winter, and so you have something personal to look forward to. In addition, if there’s anything you’ve forgotten to ask for (or neglected to receive) for Christmas, it’s a built-in second chance at getting that iHome or “Freaks and Geeks” DVD set (SO expensive).
But as the sands of time plink to the bottom of the hourglass and I officially become two decades old, I face the realization that some of my previous patterns may finally have to be laid to rest. They won’t go without a fight, mind you, but I’ve compiled a list of things that become less socially acceptable as we age. They are thus:
Wearing skull- or star- or heart-patterned clothing. Saying “cool beans.” Eating candy of all kinds indiscriminately. Discussing Jones Soda flavors with all the airs of a wine connoisseur. Weighing the relative benefits of Disney animated films against Dreamworks animated films. Judging all contemporaries based on their Facebook status (Writing a newspaper column and being unable to avoid discussing Facebook). Meticulously planning out your exit strategy in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse. Speaking in abbreves. Playing “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” and attempting to get from Katherine Hepburn to Air Bud in less than twenty degrees. Amassing an all-encompassing Sharpie rainbow. Owning more decorative hoodies than sensible jackets. Also using “owning” as a synonym to “conquering.”
On and on it goes, each item in the list more of a faux pas than the last. And I wouldn’t call myself unintelligent or unprepared for the road ahead, so there’s no reason to feign childhood with such vigor. You and I, we’re perfectly capable of tackling the real world beyond. Even Courtney Love has managed that, to a degree. So why the adamant fetal position?
I would say it has something to do with Sept. 11.
No, really, it’s true: the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred right smack dab in the middle of junior high, our most impressionable and vulnerable age. It is supposed to be a time where our self-sufficiency begins dipping its toes into the pool of greater adolescence and, eventually, adulthood. Right at that crucial moment, we were bluntly shaken, rudely awoken to our nation’s deepest insecurities. Why would anyone want to accelerate their growth only to end up an adult in a confused, tax-heavy, cynical America?
Fortunately, we’re getting better, both as a country and as the next generation of legitimate grown-ups. I will make a few trade-offs; Obama can fix things up around here and I will ditch my graphic tee witticisms. Gas prices can remain reasonably stable, and in gratitude, I will weather this bone-chilling economy rather than crossing my fingers for a blood-curdling horde of the undead. I will, at 20 years old, ditch select immature phrases and indiscretions. I will lie to rest the most ridiculous of shenanigans and games.
Though, in case you’re curious, Katherine Hepburn and Air Bud do share a global connection. It took thankless hours of trolling the Internet and copious note-taking, but it can be done, and only in seventeen little steps.