In the wise words of Randall Munroe, “I pretty sure I stopped growing up in my teens and have been faking ever since.”
When you’re growing up, adults tell you a series of lies about your future responsibilities. One of the first lies I remember is that in elementary school, our teachers told us that when we got to middle and high school, if we didn’t write our assignments in cursive, our teachers would fail us and so we had to learn. Cursive proved to be the first of many fabricated benchmarks on the way to adulthood, like doing your homework without reminders, reading adult literature, credit cards, and real life not having extensions on due dates. At some point, you’re supposed to pass enough of these and other checkpoints (being employed, owning furniture–thanks Ikea!–, paying bills, marriage, children…) that you make the leap into adulthood. But I passed most of these benchmarks a while ago, and if there’s one thing I know about myself today, it’s that I’m not an adult. I love young adult literature and I’m currently reading the worst YA book ever written, Flowers in the Attic. One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was an anthropomorphic milk carton wind-up toy. And my roommates and I just spent five minutes laughing at this commercial, which surely wouldn’t be so funny if we were mature adults:
Recently, I failed the most basic test of adulthood: feeding myself. Since getting back from vacation, no one in my house has bothered to go to the store, and so we’ve been reduced to eating whatever we can find in the house. Unfortunately, being the fake adults that we are, we have a much better stock-pile of alcohol than of food. Last night, my dinner consisted of some expired pasta with origins unknown and parmesan cheese. I criticized my roommate K for her choice of non-moldy yogurt and side of macaroni with butter, since her macaroni served primarily as a dinner companion instead of actual dinner (turns out she doesn’t like macaroni with butter). I was in no position to judge, though; after polishing off the expired pasta, tonight’s meal was also downgraded to beer, brown rice, and a spoon full of peanut butter. Unfortunately, I over-salted and undercooked the rice, now my own still-life-friend, and half of my peanut butter fell on the floor. Nearly everything but the beer ended up in the trash. I eventually found some chana masala I’d had the foresight to freeze last month, but too lazy for defrosting, I put it back untouched.
This new trend is especially alarming considering that our grocery store is a block and a half from our house, and it’s about to close down. If starvation doesn’t motivate us to walk a block and half now, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to go grocery shopping again.
The upside of all of this is, I’ve been coming to the realization lately that everyone else is faking adulthood also. And I don’t mean my equally incompetent peers, I mean everyone, including the biggest fakers of all: my parents. I recently discovered that my inability to turn things in before the absolute last possible deadline is not a generational but inherited trait. Turns out all these years, my professorial father has been turning in his academic papers at 11:59p.m. on the day-of, having had little time to edit them. In fact, his first academic paper might never have been published, except that my mom and their neighbor were both typing while he wrote, and it just so happened that it was April 15th and the post offices were open late for tax day and it could be post-marked way later than normal. My mom is no better–she’s currently planning a dinosaur origami diorama with which to decorate her cubicle.
With this new information, I feel better about not being able to feed myself properly. On the one hand, it’s scary to realize that leaping over more imaginary hurdles will not make me more of an adult. But this also means that it’s ok that my sister secretly loves Twilight and that I kind of want to be Katniss Everdeen, and it’s ok that I’m too irresponsible to buy new socks when mine get holes in them because maybe Santa will keep bringing them to me for Christmas. Of course I’ll continue to grow older and wiser, but mostly I’ll just become better at faking it. And it’s nice to know that no matter how good I am at pretending to be an adult, somewhere inside me, there will always be a 13 year old girl stalking Darren Criss on youtube.