#2. Noticing That Teenagers Make You Nervous
I was a mostly good teenager. Sure, I was dumb, and sometimes kind of a shithead, but I was never running around town breaking or ruining anything, and I was certainly never terrorizing old people. I'd just hang out in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven with my other shithead friends, because that was on the list of things that we, as teenage shitheads, could afford to do.
This is the rest of that list.
Occasionally, we'd see an adult heading to the 7-Eleven and they'd very pointedly avoid going anywhere near us. Or sometimes they'd tense up and move really slowly, and shoot us one of those looks that says, "Please don't hurt me, I just need to go in and buy some paper towels and then I'll be on my way." It was very frustrating for my friends and I, who were usually just sitting around talking about comics and movies. There's no reason to be scared. We've given no indication that we're dangerous, or even mean. We're just maybe a little bit loud, and we find your hasty assumptions of our characters to be insulting, I'd think. "Don't judge us man," I'd probably say.
Well, now it's the future, I'm a little bit older, and teenagers make me very uncomfortable.
"Jesus, that one looks like he's high on Pokemons!"
I don't know why it happened. I remember being a teenager, surrounded by other teenagers and knowing that the only teenagers I had to look out for were the ones who specifically made it clear that they didn't like me. And I remember being slightly older than a teenager; old enough that I didn't want to hang around with them, but still young enough that I wasn't above punching one if it gave me any shit. And now I'm here, at this age, where, if I see a group of teenagers hanging around outside, laughing and being loud, I instantly think, "Ooohhh, they're up to no good." I never stop and consider what they might do to me, I just tense up and try to make myself look as inconspicuous and un-looking-for-trouble as possible.
"Just take my money and leave me alone you monsters!"
I'll never know why I suddenly started seeing teenagers as angry, restless, violent people with crazy hormones they couldn't process or manage. I mean, that's what they are, but that never used to terrify me. Until I got older, that is.
#1. Defiantly Eating Something Ridiculous for Dinner
The "defiance" here is very important. Eating something absurd for dinner (or any meal) is an action that can happen at any age; it's the intention that makes the difference. In high school, I would eat a meal that consisted entirely of french fries because I was an idiot. In college, I would eat a meal that consisted of Top Ramen noodles and steak sauce because I was poor. Last week, I ate a meal that consisted of bacon-wrapped buffalo shrimp and candy bars because I am a goddamned adult. If I make some terrible meal of junk food, it's not because I'm out of options, or money, and it's not because I don't understand anything about nutrition. It's because I decided that I wanted it, and no one in Dan O'Brien's America would ever think about stopping me.
Above: Dan O'Brien's America.
Getting older and stumbling into adulthood isn't just about responsibilities and maintaining your precious sleep schedule; it's also about doing whatever the hell you want (assuming "whatever the hell you want to do" isn't "abandon my family and murder all the people"). Sometimes I just take fun trips on a whim with my friends, because we all have jobs that pay us real money, and that's literally the only thing you need to rent a cabin for a weekend, or go skiing, or head to Vegas. I'm getting a dog soon because I looked around my apartment and was like "No dog? That's stupid." If I want to spend a Saturday sitting on my computer in my underwear, I probably wouldn't do that, but only because I already did that on Wednesday because my grown-up job lets me work from home if I want. I prefer crunchy peanut butter, but we always had smooth in my house growing up because I was in the minority in my preference, and the O'Brien household is nothing if not utilitarian in our grocery shopping. I'm the only one who does the grocery shopping for me now, so not only do I have crunchy peanut butter, but every single thing in my kitchen is a piece of food that I love. Wrap your heads around that, teenagers. Drink it in. I open up my refrigerator and I never lose. I had corndogs for breakfast, Cheez-its for dinner, and fuck you for lunch.
And if anyone sees me doing this, because I am an adult who pays his own bills, they legally have to just nod and say, "Yeah, that's Dan, he's doing his thing, that's fine. In the eyes of the law, he can vote and rent a car and be tried as an adult, so I'm forced to assume he's got his shit together. Why would I stop him? I got my own thing going on, we're all cool here."
Adulting is so rad.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and his stock portfolio is yielding sweeping dividends (ladies born before 1985).
For more from Dan, check out If The 'Space Invaders' Movie is Faithful to the Game and The First Talking Sex Robot: A (Terrified) User Review.