Now that I'm 31 -- that is to say deeply rooted in "my thirties" and no longer able to claim any tangential association to "my twenties" -- I simply don't give a damn about stuff that was important just a birthday ago. The umbilical cord of self-conciousness has been unceremoniously cut and not even a ghost limb of giving a care remains
Ever wonder how that old lady on the bus got from her bathroom mirror to the outside world with a technicolored scarf, ratty high school sweatshirt and hot pink hat on? Your 29-year-old self might be sitting across from Crazy Hat Lady thinking, "What a pity. She clearly has no friends, family or even foes. If her cats could talk they'd purr, 'Girrrl, put some chap stick on at least!' But alas, her love life is forfeit." Try this on for size, that Crazy Hat Lady is me.
Since puberty, my mental list of litmus tests had been on a 24-hour news ticker. But what I learned at 31 was that the "Do this, not that" trail of crumbs leads to nowhere. Know who cares if you walk your trendy dog in your trendy "transitioning" neighborhood in the same get-up 365 days in a row? Nobody. Know what happens when you run into the cool crowd on the metro whilst lugging a Costco-size box of tampons through the closing doors? Nothing.
My mom visited this week and I caught myself policing her, demanding that she 1) shave her pits 2) put some pants on and 3) smoke her "cigarettes" outside. If we used the phrase "shut up" in our house, I would've deserved it. The woman is almost 60 and she deserves some leeway. She also no longer gets embarassed by all the silly stuff girls get the giggles about and I wanna be just like her. So here's a brief synopsis of the ridiculous stuff I'm so over in somewhat chronological order:
Remember when your mom first made you buy your own "maxipads" and running away seemed like a viable alternative to braving the feminine hygiene aisle alone? And carrying a HUGE box to the front of the store yourself? And then the sadistic cashier would give you a CLEAR plastic bag? Had she no shame? Those were the days I had a week-long "stomach ache." The days when if some jock riffled through my backpack, pulled out a tiny plastic square and laughed, then I'd consider transferring. Twenty years later, as a crimson wave vet, I just call it like I see it. So when someone with a penis asks why I'm gorging on penne by the spoonful and popping Midol by the fistful I have no euphemisms. "I'm on my fucking period!"
Shaving My Legs
Why was this such a big deal? Why did I harass my mother for months to let me do what evvvvery other girl with hardly a wisp of hair on her shinny shin shins was doing? This is peer pressure at it's worst. My mom finally relented and bought me a retro Remington from the second hand store. Instead of electrocuting myself, I began a decades-long journey in oft times twice-daily hair removal that only recently ended when I realized no one can see a five o'clock shadow on your legs, especially if you're wearing pants.
"...then you'll explode" was my go-to answer on any science quiz in middle school. "What happens when the mitchondrial gluclose gobules break down into Einstein's theory of relativity?" I'd write in the space provided: "blah blah blah blah and then you'll explode." Basically I was obsessed with gastroenterology in the same way Eve became obsessed with apples. It was verboten. Years later I farted on a date for the first time and home boy rolled the windows UP, thinking there was some kind of toxic sulphur spill near the Hudson as we sped up the West Side Highway. I learned that night that sometimes it's best to just admit you have "the vapors" and elegantly excuse yourself to the other room or at least try to aim downwind, otherwise you'll explode.
Apparently there's a book that teaches kids that what goes in must come out. I wish this book was required reading my freshman year of college where Thou Shalt Not Shit should've been written into the honor code. Finding a quiet and secluded place miles from your dorm to conduct a back door deal could take hours and you'd risk the cramps just so that some girl you hated couldn't claim your shit really did stink. I knew a girl on our floor who only went once a week at like 3 AM. I'm sure her colon hydrotherapy bills are colossal to this day. But I've got student loans to pay, so in my first grown-up apartment my roomies and I stocked up on toilet paper and matches. The sign on our bathroom door read, "Blow it up, just don't burn it down."
Barring the sexy bra/panties every woman should have just for kicks I'm firmly rooted in my comfort zone Hanes-wise. Victoria's Secret was like the Mount Olympus of Undies back in the day. If you weren't sporting some VS then you might as well just go commando. Weird thing is this brand loyalty began in like the 11th grade, when thankfully most of my friends were -- like me -- still virgins and totally clueless about what sexy even meant. These days I'm pretty sure it translates most closely to "naked and willing," so going all lacey garanimals on your underwear drawer isn't as big of a deal.
Despite a long history of sucking at sports until very recently I was still playing the unwinnable "super cool" game in relationships. I'd pretend to be the super coolest girl in the universe, so cold, in fact, that it’s totally cool for us to chat about all your other so-called girlfriends because It’s cool, my baby, we're not even dating really, right?! and we both know that in the end you’ll choose me, the coolest.
The hardest part of my favorite pastime was making sure my opponent never caught on to how I really felt. But at 31 the shot clock doesn't lie, my friend, and when the ball's in your court...Actually I don't have time for metaphors at 31 either. Listen, I tell him how I really feel, give him room to realize how he feels and then boom. We're in a "relationship" in which I call you my "boyfriend" and you introduce me as your "girlfriend." Otherwise I'll explode.
Of course this list is much much much longer, but I'll continue to pontificate on what being a grown up really means, since that's what I do to make my grown up living. Either way I want to hear from you, our genius xoJane readers. What have you totally gotten over at 21, 25, 30, 40 and beyond?