Being able to have a whole can of soda to yourself whenever you want. Or “pop,” as we still call it in Minnesota. A WHOLE CAN.
Having twenty-dollar bills. It feels like being rich—every day.
Staying up as late as you want. I used to have to get into bed at a certain time, after which I had a 20-minute window before lights-out to “play with myself,” as my mom once awkwardly put it.
Not having to go to school. To this day, every time I pass a school playground I want to lean out the window and shout, “I’m outta there, suckas!”
Driving a car. It’s pretty fun, right?
Watching R-rated movies. My dad used to let—in fact, encourage—us to watch movies like Stripes and Animal House with him, but then when the movie would get to that part, it would be, “Whoops! Kids, better go sit on the landing for a few minutes.” Sort of annoying.
Having sex. Even better than in the movies. (Usually.)
Not picking up your room until you want to. The thing no kid will ever understand regarding parents’ rules: it’s my room, so why is it your problem whether or not it’s picked up?! I still don’t get it.
Eating out for every meal if you want to. My family moved when I was 12, and over the course of a week I became absolutely shocked to learn that it’s possible to get tired of McDonald’s.
Having your own phone. When I was a kid, every time I’d get off the phone, my dad would ask, “Who was that?” Now I can have secret little text conversations with whoever the hell I want.
Having your own computer. A family I know hosted a teenage French boy as an exchange student, and the mom of the family found a history of French-language porn on the browser. When she asked the exchange student about it, he blamed the family’s teenage daughter. When you have your computer, you can look at your own damn porn in peace, in whatever language lights your board.
Getting drunk. It’s pretty fun, right?
Wearing whatever you want. Pending, in some cases, the approval of a significant other; but see “having sex,” above.
Having to pay for everything. Every damn thing. Jesus!
Doing taxes. The idea of paying taxes, fine. Kids pay taxes too, a fact to which you’re rudely awakened when you think you can buy that pack of stickers for actually 99 cents. What sucks is facing that pile of paperwork every April and wanting to cry, or puke, or go find a TV and watch it.
Car trouble. When you first own a car, you quickly realize that you’ve now entered the stage of life where you’ll be suddenly stopped—possibly in the middle of an intersection—and randomly required to pay massive sums of money simply to maintain your current standard of living. In that respect, owning an aging Toyota is not unlike living in a fascist police state.
Going to work. It’s like going to school, but you don’t get summer breaks and you have to stay until 5:00 every day. (But then, see “getting drunk,” above.)
Breakups. Kid breakups are like, “Tell Anne that we’re not ‘going together,’ any more, okay? I’m going with Joanna now.” Adult breakups are like, open the rusty jaws of hell and insert your head for six months.
Getting old. Once you’re an adult, this will happen eventually—and by all accounts, it really sucks.
– Jay Gabler, pictured in yearbook photo shoot for winners of “most creative” award at St. Agnes High School.