The following exchange occurred a few months ago, between my dentist and me, over the matter of ripping out my wisdom teeth:
Dentist: So I guess I just need you to fill out these forms…wait, are you 18 yet?
Dentist: Ah. That’s too bad. When do you turn 18?
Dentist: So in January, you will be a real person and able to fill out these forms.
(He then talked about his music tastes for what was, I swear, 20 minutes. All right, it was more like five—but it felt like AN ETERNITY [aka 20 minutes].)
So basically I’m not a real person, but on my 18th birthday a dozen little fairies will sprinkle real-person dust over my unreal-person body. Their magic will allow me to do real-person things: fill out medical forms, finally see R-rated movies in the state of Tennessee, buy lottery tickets, etc. Which will be TOTALLY AWESOME, RIGHT? Because 18 is THE AGE TO BE. Like, when I was younger, I thought that by 16 I would be a GODDESS who could talk to UNICORNS and could use my mind powers make the world a better place (i.e., manipulate my mother into buying me a cat). Man was I wrong. But when I’m 18, I will have all those things and more!
Unfortunately, there are several flaws with that logic.
First of all, I go to a high school where simply uttering the word sexy in class once got me a trip to the office with a white slip. My school—a private Christian establishment—can punish me for hugging someone in the hallway or showing my collarbone. (Hugging leads to sex leads to death; collarbones lead to boobs lead to lust leads to sex, death, etc.) I do realize that my parents paid for this, but I am still at a place in my life where teachers can control everything about me—down to what I say and wear—and can humiliate me if I “act out.” Also, high school in general is a lot like being a piece of fruit suspended in the middle of a Jell-O parfait. You can’t move, can’t change, and long to find your calling (being consumed by someone who actually likes Jell-O).
Also, can we talk about high school boys right now? I can describe every guy in my grade at this moment: His style is simple. He likes polo shirts, khakis or jeans, and athletic sneakers, topped off with a baseball hat. He loves football and DEFINITELY has an opinion about Tim Teeboo (or whatever his name is). His music tastes include Bassnectar, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, and (if he is feeling reeeealy underground) the Avett Brothers. His humor consists mainly of jokes about hipsters, and the most passionate he gets about anything is when he fights about the superiority of Macs over PCs. This type of person would be fine, if it were just one person. Unfortunately, this is what all but maybe four guys in my grade are like. I learn among an army of bros. (It has its bros and cons—LOLS NOT.)
Another problem I’m having is that I can’t even order at a restaurant. This is something that I should be able to do gracefully by now but that actually always ends poorly. I interrupt someone else ordering. I panic when asked how I want that cooked. I accidentally scream “NO” when a waiter asks me if Pepsi is OK instead of Coke. I accidentally insult the waiter. (I’m so sorry, you had no control over your bad outfit.) Before moving into real-person land, I must learn the art of ordering.
Lastly, I just need time to hit my stride, find my niche and BLOSSOM (barfing at my use of blossom right now). I need to not be embarrassed when someone asks me about what I’m reading (currently The Hunger Games, which a relative mocked me for; before that it was Dostoevsky, and this one kid was like LOL NERD; I can’t win), take a stance on politics other than “Rick Perry is really awful,” and gain a larger vocabulary so that I can totes stop talking like a seventh-grade boy. I just learned the word doldrums the other day. I should have known that earlier. Slugs are, by nature, perpetually in the doldrums. There, I used it in a sentence.
The really scary thing is that there is no guarantee that I will become a real person. It’s notable that, after the above conversation with my dentist, he told me about his taste in music. He said that he had always been a big fan of Coldplay and that he was trying to expand his tastes by listening to Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers. A grim sign, my friends. ♦