I don’t wanna grow up, and you can’t make me

by Matt Doran

It’s come to my attention that I am not a kid anymore. In fact, I’m getting old. I’m, like, a grown-up. I pay taxes and take glucosamine supplements to improve bone density. Being in my late 20s hardly makes me the AARP poster boy, but it does mean certain things are no longer permissible (at least according to mature adults who serve on juries and stuff).

I am no longer allowed to laugh at bathroom humor. Streaking isn’t funny; it’s just sad and saggy. YouTube, once a haven for obscure, lewd, amateur footage, is now for watching Third World protests. I’m an ardent supporter of said protests and would join in the demonstrations were I there. But I’m not, and if I want to watch it on the Internet, I’ll watch BBC. If I want to see a man parroting his New Jersey mother and her love for her Christmas tree, I want to go to YouTube.

Making fun of people who aren’t politicians or in Hollywood is also considered uncouth. For example: I was recently driving behind someone with the license plate frame “Sometimes a lady, sometimes a bad bad girl.” As I pulled up next to her and took a gander, I finished the phrase: “And always a troll.” I can’t mock this homely woman with bad taste anymore. Why? Because apparently being an asshole is unbecoming of a gentleman. Charlie Sheen’s unbridled insanity or Sarah Palin’s extensive diplomatic experiences through binoculars are fair game, but the time of Helen Keller and “That’s what she said” jokes have passed.

Alcoholism is still encouraged, but it doesn’t have that triumphant ring to it anymore. I can still guzzle crunk juice to my liver’s content, but I can’t brag to my friends the next day about how I blacked out and woke up on a beach with one shoe and a tricycle. I have to be demure about it. It’s all very WASPy now.

If I want to hit on girls, I’m supposed to have a job, like a big boy job, with a tax-sheltered annuity and assigned parking space. I can no longer say, “I wanna be on you!” and have her laugh. Apparently, that’s not funny anymore.

After names have been exchanged, the first thing I’m asked is, “What do you do?” I could lie and tell her I’m an officer in MENSA or a consultant for NASA. Or I could tell her, “I’m a graduate student studying creative writing, which in no way whatsoever will land me a job after graduation or help overcome the crippling $70,000 in debt I will be in. I don’t have health insurance, so you damn well better be clean. I drive a car that was manufactured during Reagan’s second term.” Then I’ll hit her with the zinger. “I live in a studio and sleep on a twin.” Chicks love that.

(I’m lucky enough to not have to suffer this exchange anymore. I’m seeing a girl now who must have foraged for berries before meeting me, because she thinks I should be a sous chef at el Bulli. I’m pretty sure she only stays with me for my culinary prowess, but obviously I’m going to take what I can get.)

These are just some of the new, adult mores I’ve been subjected to, molded by a society of overzealous, politically correct, reverent prigs bent on enforcing their stuffy dogma. But that’s a column for another day.

“But Matt, surely there must be some perks to aging like a fine wine, you handsome devil, you clever rascal you?” Oh dear reader, how you flatter me …

There was a time when I looked forward to the days of adulthood. I could rent a car, go on vacations without my parents, have a bank account with five figures in the balance and most importantly, escape the crushing feeling of alienation inherent to the social coteries of youth. Those perks are all well and good — for those lucky enough to enjoy them.

I have never had the scratch to rent a Jag for a day. I haven’t been on vacation since my senior year of high school when I went to Jamaica with my parents. Mom, Dad: Please take me again. I want so much to order a piña colada from a swim-up bar. My bank account does have five digits … if you include the cents.

And like herpes, cliques persist. They will be a constant, burning reminder of how unfit you are for social integration your entire life. Graduate school and adult world are no different. If I am ever cursed with siring an heir, I won’t be the cool dad at the park, laughing with the other dads as the upstarts romp with the golden retriever. No, I’ll likely be in the maternity ward at the hospital asking if they have a return policy.

I have to say, though, things are slightly different for me here in San Diego. I have cultivated more friendships. I credit it to my East Coast elitism, rapier wit and inexorable sarcasm, which for some reason you Californians find oddly charming, or at least foreign and mysterious, and so grant me more latitude in running my mouth. I want to thank you all for your continued tolerance and appreciation of my inane gum flapping.

Clearly I haven’t matured well. I still desperately cling to the sophomoric shades of my youth. I miss the days when I pushed shopping carts with my car while my friends sat inside them. I miss buying rotten fruit at 1 a.m. and driving around throwing grapefruit grenades at hapless pedestrians. I miss urban golfing. I miss buying a roll of caution tape and quarantining entire neighborhoods. Oh how I miss being young and stupid.

As it so happens, I can still pass for 22 if I shave, what with my bro fro and varsity gait, so I am going to use my boyish features and charm to stubbornly resist the prudes and their insipid etiquette codes. I will not drink your bland Kool-Aid or swallow your Soma pill. I will watch “My New Haircut” on YouTube until I pee my pants. I will continue to party like it’s 1999, because if the guys in “The Hangover” can do it, so can I. Viva Four Loko!

-Matt Doran is a creative writing graduate student with a hankering for some juvenile antics. E-mail him at doranmatthew@hotmail.com to schedule some hijinks.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.