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home : opinions : opinions April 30, 2016

1/29/2014 9:31:00 AM
One Man's Rant
The age of maturity is ... 16?
by Wil Williams

At the age of ten, I knew beyond question that the advanced age of 16 was the hallowed threshold to intellectual depth and refined deportment. I knew this because my sister, who is six years older, had invited her high school friends to the house for cheerleading practice. That afternoon, I observed a group of young ladies who exhibited the gentility and sophistication of a class much to be admired.

I was in awe of these ethereal beings who represented the gravitas that I wanted for my own. My big goal in life was to achieve the age of reason, an age six years hence.

At last the much-anticipated day arrived. I became what I had coveted for so many years - 16. The intoxication of the occasion faded quickly when I realized that I didn't feel any smarter, any more grown up. I was not the self-assured man-about-town that I had expected to be.

Not only that, but my 16-year-old colleagues were still of the same adolescent world that I sought to escape.

The reality was crushing; the age of maturity and the age of 16 were not one in the same.

At this low point in my life where could I turn for the motivation to persevere? I found no oracle with the solution, but I resolved that the age of 21 most assuredly had to be the hallowed threshold to intellectual depth, etc.

So I set my sights upon accumulating five more years. Then I would be a man of substance and revered for my unassailable decorum.

It was a torturous endeavor.

I got my driver's license, started a part-time job and threw myself into the high school years. Above it all, I never lost sight of my most aspiring objective; to reach the pinnacle of 21.

Then with one final titanic thrust, I achieved my 21st birthday. Instead of trumpets tooting and angels warbling sweetly on high, however, I was wrist deep in KP duty with a mess sergeant screaming at me to wash the (expletive) skillets again. How had I fallen so far so fast?

It only took half a nanosecond to determine that I wouldn't find my own particular golden fleece as a soldier in this man's army. For the next three long years, I temporarily suspended my life-long quest for the art of refinement.

I decided to lower my standards and to be thoroughly satisfied if I could just locate some small scrap of sanity.

I'm not sure I was successful in this struggle, either, but one day I found myself wearing sensible civilian clothes again and not one multi-striped non-com was berating me for a crooked gig line.

Now I could refocus my resources on the search for... Then it hit me. I could not have been more violently disabused if I'd been smacked in the face with a wet squirrel. The beady little black eyes of truth were staring me square in the snoot: There is no flippin' age of maturity! (This is now my official maxim; I was afraid I would never have a maxim of my own!)

Prudence and good judgment may always dance temptingly just beyond the grasp of my aging fingers. I can now take issue with Tom Stoppard, the English playwright, who thinks, "Age is a very high price to pay for maturity." Listen Tom, your assumption is a pluperfect miscalculation; age and maturity are not necessarily compatible bed fellows. I submit my own life to the court as evidence.

I feel the stress just easing away. I'm being transported into a new consciousness called "I don't really care." These are the most therapeutic paragraphs I've ever concocted. Ahhhh.

To comment on this column, email Wil Williams at: wilaugust46@gmail.com

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