On my 29th birthday, I look at ways my friends and I have been growing up.
Yesterday was my 29th birthday.
I certainly don’t feel 29… and have a raging Peter Pan Complex that’s doing a fairly good job keeping me young… but somehow, insidiously, I’ve changed. I’ve matured. I’ve grown up. Subtly.
I put together this list of 11 things my friends and I say now, in our late 20s, that we never used to say when we were in college or just out.
(For reference, I avoided things related to technology and the like… although it is kinda weird that I send about 800 text messages a month now and never even sent one until I was 24.)
1 | “Four in a hotel room, absolute max.”
When I was a senior in college, I took a road trip with a bunch of friends to the Kentucky Derby. (It was about 7 hours from Evanston to Louisville.) We had one room at like a Comfort Inn or something equivalent.
That night, I believe we slept 16 people in that room. I remember I went out to a bar and got back to the hotel room with the last group.
In the dark, I was able to find about eight unoccupied feet of space on the ground. I put down two towels (blankets, sheets and the comforters you wouldn’t want to see under a blacklight were all long claimed). I used my sweatshirt as my pillow. And I was totally fine with that.
Over time, things started changing as we started getting older. Five or six in a room started becoming awkward. It got old having to just send two people to check in while the rest hid back so the hotel wouldn’t realize we were packing dudes in their room like it was a clown car.
On my most recent trips with friends (which, for better or worse, have all been to Vegas this year), we’ve done only two or three in a room. I guess as you get older, you just want to lay down in a bed.
2 | “I got this one.”
This is along the same lines as the hotel room. Yes, our salaries go up as we get older. But I think, as you grow up, you just get used to having a salary. Knowing that a few times a month, money just shows up in your bank account. And that knowledge makes everyone more ready to just throw down the credit card and take care of stuff for your friends.
Not that we were stingier when we were younger… we just couldn’t afford to do anything. When I was a month and a half out of college, I went to Vegas with $15 in my wallet and about $80 in my bank account. (I struggled like hell getting a job for a few months out of college.)
At that point, I couldn’t afford to go to a club and buy a round of drinks for four people that would come out to $40. I could barely afford to tip the waitress every time she brought me a beer while my friend Jeremy and I sat in the Keno lounge playing $1 a round. (It was a really smart way to drink a lot for almost no money, by the way.)
3 | “Can we really drink on Friday AND Saturday night?”
On my 20th birthday, I drank far, far, far too much. I think whiskey was heavily involved. Anyway, I got home that night at 4:00 A.M., proceeded to make out with the garbage can all night. And the next morning around 11 I was up and jitterbugging like a 1920’s flapper.
Well, maybe not all of that’s accurate. But the meaning beneath those words is true. When we were younger, we could drink consequence-free. These days, a night of drinking like that would put me in bed until about 3 the next afternoon and dragging for the entire day.
I think that’s the body’s way of telling you it’s time to stop drinking like you’re a college kid.
4 | “I can’t start the fantasy draft then because of my babies.”
My high school friends and I still do a fantasy football league, one that we’ve been doing since 1995. I don’t have permission to do this, but I am going to reprint a brief e-mail exchange between two guys last week as we tried to figure out a time to do our draft this year.
Guy 1: I’m just getting back from a vacation that Sunday [8/24]. Since the drive is 10 hours, I won’t be back in time.
Guy 2: Leave earlier… who drives more than 5-6 hours anymore?
Guy 1: I have a baby asshole and babies need lots of shit. If I can send for a private plane, I would. In the meantime, I’ll be hauling ass to get home by Monday morning.
Scheduling fantasy drafts around all the different fathers’ baby sleep schedules? Not an issue in the past.
5 | “I can’t eat that.”
Along the lines of being able to drink any and all liquor and be fine back in the day, food was the same. Now we FEEL our meals.
You get some ribs and corn on the cob and French fries and just hoss out? You can’t move for six hours and probably need a nap in there. You feel it all throughout the night. You’re almost forced into eating salads and chicken now.
6 | “Completely STD free! Somehow.”
It’s not that people are definitively sexually riskier as they get older (although I have seen some evidence of this)… it’s just that now, it’s proper etiquette to get STD tested at a frequent rate.
I didn’t see people doing that in their early 20s. It just didn’t seem like it was necessary, as everyone was handling their business responsibly and protected. And, more importantly, for most, that business was happening a lot less frequently and with a lot fewer people.
Now, one friend — whose name I really won’t reveal — got an STD test and was so excited by a completely clean bill of health that he wanted to take his results and get them printed on a t-shirt.
Which would’ve been AWESOME.
7 | “Yep, I think I’m in [this city] for good.”
In your early 20s, you were never sure if the city you moved to after college was where you were going to end up. And it was fine if you didn’t end up there… that’s the age when you can live anywhere for a few years and if it doesn’t work out there, it’s no big deal. You had time to burn and to play with.
At this point, you’ve kind of established where you are going to live. Whether it’s because you’ve bought a house or condo there (not an issue for people who choose creative as opposed to actual paying work, like me), you’ve got a family there (not an issue in big cities) or because you’re deeply rooted in the industry that’s there… you’re there.
So, yeah, unless something very strange happens, most of my friends and I are in the spots we’re going to be in long, long term.
Hear that Los Angeles? Baby I’m yours. If you want me, give me your all. I’ll be loving you forever. And… um… it’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.
8 | “I’m going to the gym in the morning.”
We might go to the gym after work. We might not belong to a gym and just play racquetball or basketball with each other.
Now, we’re so mature that we’re not just gym members… we actually realize it’s smart to hit it in the morning before work, because you never know what could spring up to keep you from going that night.
And I’m just about the worst morning person this side of a heroin user, so it’s especially shocking to me that I’m able to get up in the mornings several times a week to do this.
9 | “The roller coasters are awesome, but can we sit down for a second?”
The scene: Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park in Orange County, May of 2007. We’d been going on roller coasters galore, plunging things, spinning things, log rides, everything. And finally, I uttered the words that, back when I was younger, I never even fathomed would come out of my mouth: “Can we sit down for a second? In the shade?”
At that moment, I had officially lost my youthful vigor that requires you to maximize every second at an amusement park… and I just wanted to rest my sticks for a minute or two, stop getting so shaken and rattled around, and have a nice, cool drink of water.
10 | “When’s the last time you went to the dentist?”
Until you’re on your own, you’ve got a dentist. In college, we all just went to our childhood dentists when we were back in our home cities on vacation. I’m particularly immature and ask my mom to schedule said appointments for me.
All of a sudden when you’re an adult, whether or not you have dental insurance, it’s on you. And, assuming nothing in your mouth feels weird, my friends always seem to forget about the dentist.
For most people, the answer to the question of “When’s the last time you went to the dentist?” is “Wow… hmmm… ya know, it must’ve been… damn… wow… I’m not sure, I’m thinking maybe like… last, um… April? Or somethi– no… um… wow. It’s been a really long time. I gotta schedule an appointment.” And then they never do.
11 | “Are we too old to hit on college girls?”
Wait… actually we WERE saying that back when we were 22. Oops.