In the good ol’ U. S. of A., the generally understood age of adulthood is eighteen years. Well… sort of. At eighteen, you can buy lottery tickets, go to an R-rated movie, vote, and join the military. But you’ll have to wait another three years to legally down a beer. Insurance companies and car rental companies don’t really consider you fully adult until twenty-five, and charge you for your alleged lack of maturity. Of course, regardless of what Geico or Hertz think, some states will allow you to legally get behind the wheel of a car as young as fourteen!
What exactly is the definition of “grown up” anyway? Maybe you felt grown up when you were twelve but by the time you hit thirty you just wanted mommy. It’s hard to define the exact moment of metamorphosis, but there are definite criteria that can “diagnose” adulthood:
- Baking powder vs baking soda, you know the difference. Baking soda is great for a lot of reasons. You can brush your teeth with it, you can use it to clean the stink out of carpet, it makes a decent antacid, it helps relieve the itching of a poison ivy rash, if you wash your gym clothes in it the BO will be gone for sure along with any depleted uranium if you’ve managed to get into that, and it’s even been used to slow the progression of end-stage kidney failure. However, if you use the soda instead of the powder in your cake or sugar cookie recipe, you’ll ruin it.
- Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt. Sure, when you’re young you can sleep anywhere; hardwood floor, bath tub, a library desk. My kid can somehow sleep with her head at a ninety degree angle to her body. When you’re truly an adult, however, you need to sleep on a bed. Falling asleep on the couch will cause you to spend an extra half hour in the morning getting ready to face the day, and you’ll probably still feel rough unless you’re an ibuprofen junkie. Sleep in the bath tub? Forget it.
- You don’t use a 1040EZ form to do your taxes. As an adult, you own things and have a job that doesn’t require your asking if someone wants whip cream on their mocha. As an adult, you possible share your bed, money, and toilets with another adult in what we call an “adult relationship”. These relationships often involve shared expenses and bank accounts and insurance policies and the like. As an adult, you possibly have little non-adults relying on you for food, shelter, and butt-wiping. You might even run your own business. All of these things preclude you from doing your taxes with the “EZ form”.
- You don’t care that you’re not cool. Not only don’t you care, you’ve come to realize that when you were younger you weren’t that damned cool to begin with. Real “cool” is very rare. Real cool is Steve McQueen, Justin Timberlake, Sophia Lauren, Bowie, Paul Newman, Ellen Page, Jimmy Fallon, Ryan Gosling, Michelle Obama, Sinatra, Madonna. You’re not those people. You never were. As an adult, you enjoy the bonus that comes with this realization; life becomes cheaper and less stressful.
- You know your way around Target without wandering or asking for help. Target is fantastic. Target has almost anything you need, and what it doesn’t have can usually be found in the same strip mall at the grocery store or Home Depot. Usually there’s a Starbucks nearby too and maybe even one of those fast haircut places! Anything you can’t get at a strip mall should probably be bought online. Seriously. As a side note, as an adult you also know not to go to Sam’s Club or Costco on a weekend.
- You sort your laundry. Whites stay whiter when only washed with other whites. Some colors and fabrics bleed their colors, but you already know this as an adult and wash that stuff on its own… probably in the sink ’cause it’s cheaper that way. Having all the tee shirts and jeans in their own load makes for an easy folding session. You also learn that, while folding shirts, dresses, and pants is an imperative, folding socks and underwear is a silly waste of time.
- You’ve sewn your oats. You’ve had your wild times. You’ve gotten plastered and fallen asleep in a bathtub, on a hardwood floor, and on numerous couches. You’ve had your hookups and forgotten their names, and sometimes you’ve even forgotten that you hooked up at all. You’ve made an ass of yourself at a party. You’ve done it all and you’re over it.
- Things don’t disgust you so much anymore. You’ve cleaned vomit. You’ve had nasty zits and maybe a stye or a runny cyst. You’ve probably dealt with hemorrhoids, getting up in the middle of the night to apply creme or maybe shove some medicine up your tailpipe. Maybe you’ve wiped someone’s butt for them or had your butt wiped by someone else. The rash happened, the cold sore happened… Now a bad hair day doesn’t even phase you.
Does all of this stuff make you nod your head in cognizance? If so, congrats! You’re a grown up. There are extra “grown up points” for you if you know what “cognizance” means.