postcard from a twentysomething

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I'm having a mid-twenties crisis. It's like a mid-life crisis, except that it's brought on by facing the reality of mortgages, not mortality. It begins with the realisation that there are no more socially sanctioned maturity rites to pass through. I can drink, vote and drive a heavy goods vehicle (preferably not all at once). It's too late to talk about what I'll do "when I grow up". I have grown up - in theory.

I have filled in a tax form. I have cooked a fish. I have received a party invitation that has the presumptuous words "and partner" appended to my name. I have kissed female friends goodbye, with only a slight, vestigial fear of their punching me in the ear.

I have been in pubs with my friends' little brothers. And these brothers, who should, by rights, be making themselves sick with cans of Shandy, can take more alcohol than I can. What's more, they can afford more alcohol than I can.

I have run into people I went to school with: ignorant, obnoxious, worthless people whom I promised myself I would loathe forever. And, once each of them has told me about his job in retail marketing, I have been unable to suppress the thought that this person, this hated person, is not such a bad sort after all.

I know people who are getting divorced. Getting married isn't necessarily a sign of maturity - it's all very romantic and foolish, and really quite easy to accomplish. But to go through the trauma and the legal slog of divorce ... well, that shows serious commitment. Paying alimony, being a divorcee, saying: "Nick, I was so young, I didn't know what I was doing." Surely these activities are illegal for anyone under 37?

I have started to form a vague understanding of how my parents' minds work, and am groping towards the theory that some of their actions have a rational basis. I'm told that people don't normally arrive at this insight before the age of 73.

I have become aware of my nasal hairs. I have no idea whether there's a female equivalent of this awareness. And frankly, I don't have the courage to ask anyone.

Girls I remember clearly as children, and whom I therefore assumed would always remain children, are now, manifestly, not. This uncomfortable piece of information first pushed its way into my mind three or four years ago when I saw a photo in Sky magazine of a sultry young woman posing in her underwear. It was Drew Barrymore. Drew Barrymore! The squeaky little muppet who was in ET! What's she doing in her underwear? She's only about eight! But no, she was 18.

The symptoms are conclusive. I am, technically speaking, an adult. It's not an enviable state to be in, but it helps if you can get paid to write a column about it.

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