Confessions of a Boring Teenager

“Huh. Y’know…it occurs to me, I’ll be twenty soon. That means I won’t be able to use ‘I’m a teenager’ as an excuse for acting like an ass anymore.”

Andy gave me a look. We were walking back from…I dunno, hitting the gas station for slushies, or grabbing diner food or something.

“Are you serious?” he said, and I waved it off, pretended it was a joke.

But the thought had occurred to me. Nineteen is the limit for being a stupid teenager and getting into tomfoolery and hijinks. It means you can’t, with any real authority, talk about The Man keeping you down. If you do so as a teenager, it’s ridiculous but forgivable, because…well, frankly, you’re a teenager, and they largely have shit for brains.

If you’re a twenty-nothing and start talking about The Man…well, you’re just sad, aren’t you? Sad and an idiot.

Not that I was ever really given to calling anyone over forty a fascist when I was a teenager. But the idea that I couldn’t get away with it after a certain point…it grated. I didn’t do much as a teenager. I didn’t take my parents’ cars out for joyrides, I didn’t sit around in parking lots smoking pot, I didn’t do interestingly filthy things with high school girls under the bleachers.

Cliché stupid teen stuff, but I never did it. With that suffix behind me, I wish I had.

But I can’t. The option is gone. The…need to do it has passed. You do that stuff as a teenager because of limited options and intelligence. I don’t know that I’ve gotten smarter, but…there’s no need to joyride when I’ve got my own car. And although I still shoot the shit with friends in parking lots, alcohol is quicker and easier to get, and better enjoyed at homes anyway. And it’s illegal (and frankly, distasteful) to be under the bleachers with high school girls; besides which, the girls greater than or equal to my age have more interesting bookshelves and CD racks.

I was a boring teenager, and I’m not a terribly interesting adult. Shrug. I don’t actually think about it often; the only thing worse than nostalgia for a thing you did is nostalgia for a thing you might’ve done.

That said…

Sometimes, I’ll see something that’ll trigger it. A nice car with the keys still in it, or a guy who looks just a little too casual about standing on that corner, or a girl who could be my age if girls my age didn’t try so hard to look my age. Or a sign that’s just a list of Nos, that hated catchphrase of The Man.  No this, no that, no anything.

I’ll see things like that and wonder if I’d be a happier man today, knowing that I’d smashed a few windows for trying to tell me what I can’t do.

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Josh Hechinger is a future writing superstar/cautionary tale. He lives in Pennsylvania.

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