18: the Joys of Being Legally Burdened

I was born 18 years and one day ago on a rainy April day in Miami, Florida, which is, mind you, totally typical for Miami, Florida. I was born to a Cuban-American mother – surprise – and a Caucasian father. However, you don’t want my backstory today. I’m sure I can lull you to sleep with my autobiographical ambrosia some other time, preferrably when I’m writing my autobiography. But that’s for another day.

I am writing today, because the day before today – let’s call it “yesterday” – was my eighteenth birthday. If you didn’t already pick that up from the first sentence then, I’m sorry, it’s going to be a long, undulating verbal trek from here on out, so you better call your mom to stand over your shoulder and sound out words for you. Like miasma or Baphomet. Or antithesis.

Anyway, this is my first full day of being, legally, a man with, realistically, the mind of a child. Ask any eighteen year-old if he’s ready to be financially and politically responsible and you’ll be met with either a liar or an idiot. Our brains aren’t fully developed until the age of 25, yeah? Well then please tell me which impatient Founding Father of ours was twiddling away in his Sepulchre of Freedom thinking that classifying a teenager as a fully capable adult was a grand idea?

My bets are on William Few. He always looked like a sneaky hambone.

Pictured: sneaky hambone

I’m an adult, and I don’t feel any different from how I felt two days ago. Well, besides the fact that I have all these shiny new responsibilities to myself and my country (I can call it “my country” now).

The problem with this system is its inability to recognize gradual change. In the blink of an eye I turned from an innocent sproutling to Liability #311,587,492. I understand that, in the big scheme of things, this can be interpreted as an allegory on how sometimes responsibility is thrust upon you, but if you’re legitimately making that point, sod off.

No, seriously. Log off your computer.

There is a massive difference between noble responsibility and dutiful responsibility. If I were going through my coming-of-age rites in some African tribe, that would be noble, because I’d be entering a transitional ceremony that allows me to prove myself. Turning eighteen in America, or any other country in that regard, is a dutiful responsibility that drop-kicks you in the pants and offers you a pack of smokes to calm your nerves.

Go to hell

I don’t want smokes. I want candy. I want someone to explain to me why I can be forced to fight and die for my country but I can’t have a beer to celebrate a victory. I want to know why a sixteen-year old can be trusted to operate a hulking, fast-moving piece of machinery on public roads, but he or she can’t handle the power to vote for someone he or she believes in every four years.

But yeah, I’m just complaining I guess. I hope I got you to at least question why we’re so abruptly shoved into adulthood like this. If you have something to say, please leave a comment below.

This whole system is hella wack, friends, and I just entered it.

Wish me luck.


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