On Being 18 – Again and Forever

I was called “Sir” again.

I ordered a sandwich at the firm’s cafeteria and the guy gave me my order by saying, “Here you go, Sir.”   It was deja vu.  Three years ago, when I was in law school, I ordered a sub at the dining hall on main campus (where undergrads eat) and I was told the same thing as I was given the order.

Oh how I hate being called “Sir.”  It makes me feel so old.

If I had to choose one dream in life, it would be to be 18 again and remain at that age forever.  People say the best age is 21 because you can drink.  Not me.  I want to be a Senior in high school, when you could drink but not legally with little consequence for breaking the law.

College was fun, but it wasn’t high school.  I enjoyed college because I lost my senses and started to enjoy studying.  College was doing the two things I loved most–studying and having fun–24/7 and I had a blast.   But everything in college must be  in moderation.  You can go out Thursday night, so long as you can finish your paper by Friday morning.  You studied hard for a final only because you knew a month and a half winter break was over the horizon.

High school was different.  High school is when you went to school to meet friends, cheated on tests you didn’t study for, laughed when jerks picked on teachers who deserved better, stayed out late because your parents told you not to, broke the law because consequences were minimal, studied because your parents told you to, and talked about sports and girls because politics was uncool.  Adolescence was a time of irresponsibility, immaturity, and stupidity.  It was a time I was forever meant to be in.

The allure high school has for me is a bit unusual; I don’t know anyone else who shares it.  Maybe it’s because of the uncontroversial and “model” adolescence I lived through.  I never had an official curfew because my parents trusted me; I went to Japanese juku for 5 days a week, until 11 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday; I never broke the law; and the worst I ever did was cheat on several occasions.  I feel like I wasted the once in a lifetime opportunity to be reckless without consequence and I so badly want to get it back.  The phrase “juvenile delinquent” has an unsatisfiable appeal.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m immature.  As much as I enjoy having intellectual discussions about issues with no personal consequence, my greatest entertainment comes when I’m around kids.  I can relate to them; I understand them; I am one of them.

When I was tutoring a family of four kids in Boston, they all wrote me a farewell card after our last session.  The oldest wrote:  “I liked you because you were nothing like I expected: you didn’t tell me to study all the time.”  The parents probably didn’t appreciate the advice on life I was giving the kids behind closed doors, but I was quite pleased enjoyed our sessions because of my misplaced priorities.

Becoming an adolescent again wasn’t possible, but I thought I had a shot at becoming a college student again–the next best thing.  I went back to Boston College for law school because I didn’t want college to end.  And by telling you I have no friends from Boston College Law School but I still know undergrads attending Boston College, you can imagine the circle of people I surrounded myself during my three years of graduate education.  And yes, I kept the same photo from my senior year in high school for my school I.D. while in law school that I had in college.

As much as I try living young, though, you can’t fight age. I realized living like a college student was different from actually being one when friends invited me to a party that starts, not ends, at 1 A.M.; I watched girls stumble into the cafeteria wearing pajamas and flip flops at noon to eat breakfast; I was shuttling back and forth between New York and Boston for job interviews; I realized the guy serving me the sandwich was probably a Freshman six years younger than I was; and I was in a position to offer and be solicited life advice.

No, I’m not 18 anymore, or for that matter, even 21.  But those who know me best know that I’m rather immature–and darn proud of it.  Growing up, becoming responsible, attaining achievement and receiving respect are all important, but I never want to lose that kid-like immaturity.  Otherwise, where’s the fun in growing up?


10 Responses to “On Being 18 – Again and Forever”

  1. 1 Chris Bedell January 9, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Any chance you can get knighted Joe? It might make you feel better about being called Sir!

    • 2 joesas January 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

      That is one of the most intelligent, witty reply I have ever seen to my blog. I shall now strive for a British Knighthood (perhaps by playing James Bond?) so I would feel being called “Sir” is because of my distinguished stature, rather than my age.

      Thanks for reading my blog!

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