Whether you are an angst-ridden, analytical and unanimously mature 16-year-old, an “officially adult” 18, or a wine-purchasing 21, it can be hard to mark the exact moment when one truly becomes an adult. If you, like me, can’t quite figure out when we complete our journey past the threshold of grown-up-ness and into the qualms of adult life, I may have the solution. The following is a short, completely accurate list of seven ways to determine one’s position on the adulthood spectrum. Check three items or fewer and continue to enjoy your youth. Check three and a half and I’m sorry about the pimples. Check four? Congratulations, adult—you made it. P.S. Rent is due.
1. You have been following the presidential race for at least two years. Skip this one if you just turned eighteen and are now psyched to cast your very first presidential vote. That’s great, but it doesn’t assure adulthood. Also, insider tip: don’t forget to look over the propositions. If you really are an adult, you have been fully invested (or at least minimally aware) of the 2012 election since mid-2010. Ah yes, the bygone days of a million candidates, frequent debates, and fun Michelle Bachmann impersonations. You were in it for the long haul. You garnered some enjoyment from all this political fodder and now it’s time to reap the rewards. The conclusion of this adventure quickly approaches, just like the LOST finale, and you cannot contain your excitement. What does it all mean? HOW WILL IT END? WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS??
2. You have purposely purchased a sample packet of peanut butter instead of the whole jar. Not what you were expecting after #1, I bet. But seriously, do I have to elaborate? No adolescents are this foolish. This is purely adult nonsense. Children, preteens, and teens can all claim ownership of the sufficient self-control to enjoy a normal serving of peanut butter without becoming legume-eating monsters. Only adults are so intoxicated by the sticky substance that they must kill an entire jar in two days. You know how you are supposed to stop believing in the tooth fairy after you loose your last tooth? Same idea.
3. You’ve called BS on a cab’s “not working” credit card machine. Listen, they always work.
4. You have a credit card.
5. A parent/spouse/best friend has forgotten your birthday. Facebook makes this one a little complicated since it is basically a well-oiled birthday alert system, but if your parents (or spouse, or significant other, etc) have yet to sign their names away to the lovely blue book, they will most likely forget your birthday at some point. It’s not a “16 Candles” big deal. It happens, and they’re not doing it maliciously (probably). Here’s an example of how the conversation might go. Parent: “What day is your birthday?” You: “Today.” Parent: “It’s the 28th already?” You: “It’s the 26th.” Maybe they’re getting older and things occasionally slip their minds, or maybe you’ve grown up and aren’t CONSTANTLY REMINDING EVERYONE that your big day is forthcoming. Either way, someone forgot, you got over it, and you’re excited to see who drops the ball next year. Boom: adulthood.
6. You have accidentally ordered a whole fish. This is a wonderful and essential rite of passage into the adult world. Perhaps you were out for Chinese food and innocently ordered the steamed white fish. Surprise! Maybe you were in Maine and ordered snapper and “Oh goodness, what is this on my plate?!” I’m not talking about your basic scales here. I mean full-on fish body– tail, head, eyes, hopes, dreams, you get it. Your first test when the carcass arrives is to remain calm. Only true adults can control their shock and awe. The next test involves the fish’s actual consumption. This one is pure ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’ There’s no way you know how to handle this. It’s okay. Seriously, Keith, put down the butter knife. Just try your best. Secretly everyone feels bad for you, and like my high school drama teacher said before my Oklahoma audition, they want you to succeed.
7. You fear seagulls or pelicans or both. Perhaps the most important sign of adulthood. You know what I’m talking about. While kids hardly notice these beach-time companions, adults are fully aware of their ominous presence. Hitchcock did it for crows, and the adult psyche does it for seagulls and pelicans. Whether you are simply concerned about a possible lunch-snatching or you are seriously worried about a body-snatching, every adult harbors at least an inkling of fear toward these avian monsters. It is, of course, purely based on aggression and has nothing to do with the flu. Don’t tell me you were 100% on-board with Scuttle from The Little Mermaid. Something is off there; we all know it. Also, if you didn’t fear seagulls or pelicans before you read this paragraph and now you do—congrats, you can count this twice toward your adulthood knighting.