Today marks a milestone in my life. Five years ago when I turned sixteen, I achieved my freedom by being able to drive wherever my friends told me to. The age of eighteen allowed me to play pickles (or “pull-tabs,” as it seems to be called here in Minnesota), vote, and smoke. Now that I have reached the ripe old age of twenty-one, I can gamble and drink in all fifty states. Because my thoughts are very dear to me, I do not plan on exercising some of my rights. Gambling can harm the mind. So can drinking. I have lived a quarter of my life, unless I die in a freak bus accident tomorrow, but what do I remember most? Everything, because I never got plastered from alcohol. (I have a dog shampoo addiction I am fighting, so I don’t have room to be addicted to anything else.)
I could tell you about the good old days when I was a kid. I was old enough to remember ’79, I remember 1980-1998, I remember Star Wars and the Gulf War. I remember Pac-Man and Dig Dug, and I remember the television series “V.” I remember when video games only cost a quarter! Pop came in glass bottles that you could return for cash! Cans had pull-tabs! Shag carpet! School House Rock! Dukes of Hazzard! SMURFS! THE DC COMIC SUPER HEROS! TRANSFORMERS! GO-BOTS! ALF!
It was while looking through the directory at my college, skimming through the birth dates, when I started to feel old. The freshmen were being born a year after my earliest memories came about. Sure 1977 and 1980 are only three years apart, but they are different decades. The kids’ earliest memories start in ’82 or ’83, three years later than mine! Even then they are not focused on the major events around them. They do not know Mork and Mindy, Bosom Buddies, Greatest American Hero, and Star Wars and E.T. on the big screen.
People whom I watched while growing up are dead: George Burns, John Belushi, River Phoenix, and Harry Caray. Sure the young people may know George Burns, but how many know “Oh God You Devil?” How many knew the Blues Brothers on “Saturday Night Live?” How many knew “Stand By Me” when it first came out? How about the Sandberg Game of 1984?
A serious issue now arises. How old is too old? When do I stop trick or treating? When do I stop receiving money from the Tooth Fairy? When do I stop coming home on holidays? When do I learn to tie my own shoes?
Recently, while home during Halloween, I went trick or treating with two friends who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent and to prove that in my writing I am the big kahuna and decide whose name appears in print. We went as members of KISS. Pat was Peter Criss, Grant was Ace Frehley, and I went as Paul Stanley. We did not have a Gene Simmons. (So I gave them names. I don’t care. I’m at a quarter-life crisis here, nothing matters, not even the innocent.)
Some asked if we were too old. We did not know. What we did know is that we felt better going behind some little kids and knocking on the door at the same time so that the giver of candy would assume we were their older brothers. We decided that for next year we would take someone’s kids trick or treating with us. Sure, we could just follow a stranger’s kids around, but it tends to freak them out and send them running to the nice police officer. No, Grant, that is not a costume.
Three college students trick or treating. When does the fun end? When do we have to start buying our own candy? When am I too old? Worst yet, when do I start leading the ’80s children into the new millennium? When do I need to mature? Is there a time when practical jokes such as replacing someone’s shampoo with Nair is not appropriate for a man of my age? Am Ito be a proper role model?
I seem to be asking more questions than I am able to answer. As I turn twenty-one I think I will take on a new motto: Stop asking questions about life and start living it. I think that is a good motto for this milestone. Don’t you? Am I right? I could be wrong, am I? Should I ponder this more? Is there a place I can go when life gets me down and everyone knows my name plus they have a Pac-Man machine in the corner?