Poor Excuses

A recent graduate on the high, high price of being an adult

_MG_8698Photo: Susan Ogan


By Dan Forward


s a fairly recent law-school graduate and perennial child trapped behind what is still a very youthful face, or so I’m told (but that’s beside the point), I frequently find that I have to live above my means. Man does not live by bread alone, as the saying goes, but on the Banana Republic summer collection and overpriced burritos. Actually, there are a lot of things that start becoming more expensive as you go out into the real world. When I was a kid, all I needed to have fun with my friends was a willingness to stay up all night, some soda, some cheddar popcorn, an Xbox (or maybe two depending on how many people were over), anywhere from four to eight controllers, two copies of Halo, two TVs, some DVDs for later, enough money to order takeout, and youthful innocence. Total budget? Zero dollars, because my mom paid for it. No problem!

Nowadays a lot of us have lost that supplemental parental income. Young adults have all sorts of obligations that cost money, especially in this city, and for some reason we’re expected to fund them ourselves. Depending on your age, for example, you may have figured out by now that brunch is a real thing. I know, I know: Brunch is supposed to be something awful people in movies. But, no, people really do it! And if you’re invited, you can’t say no, and you have to bring something, and it can’t be chips and salsa because your friends who pretend to be grownups don’t have that for breakfast. You have to bring blackberry brie omelets, or something with leeks in it. There’s only so many times you can pretend to misinterpret “prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe” as “pretzel Goldfish” before people start to catch on.

Traveling is another burden. In college, it was understood that fall and spring semesters were for college friends, and then everyone would come back to their hometowns (and their parents’ houses) during breaks. But after school ends, a diaspora of newly minted adults occurs in which those highly practical and prescient people who got jobs after college instead of going to graduate school start new lives all over the country. Vacations are reserved mostly for family, so if you, the lonesome pauper, want to see your friends, you have to buy a plane ticket. I know it’s hip to talk about how affordable Jet Blue is, and meeting the phrase, “Jet Blue is doing super cheap deals to D.C. right now” with enthusiasm is definitely part of my fiscal fa├žade, but in my case, it’s just another example of that fallacy that because something is discounted means it’s cheap. Like those two Shake Weights I bought for the price of one, so I could double-fist. Too much at any price.

And why do we have to dress well now? Didn’t we all used to scorn loafers and khakis, and blouses and nylons if you’re a girl (or just into experimentation)? It was truly beyond my comprehension when I was young why someone would choose to wear something other than jeans and a T-shirt. Now I have enough sweater-and-collared-shirt combos to dress up as a different person’s WASPy grandfather every day of the year.

But I’m over it. I’ll grow up. That’s fine. I suck at Halo now, even though I still play it a ton, and there aren’t enough Wet Naps in the world to sufficiently clean your hands after you eat an entire bag of cheddar cheese-popcorn, so it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I would totally let childhood go and embrace adulthood, but I just don’t have the means to do so. My friends and I couldn’t wait for the time when we would become adults. They’d spent years using their fake id, that they got with the help of places like this fake id Florida service to make sure they got served at the hottest nightclubs and enjoy all the necessities that being an adult can bring you. But when you actually become an adult, the reality hits you hard. I’ve been rejected by credit-card companies even more times than I’ve looked down on someone for drinking alcohol or having fun with other people.

Is this the end of the world? No. That’s months away. For now, I can still fool a lot of people into believing that not only do I have money, but that I’m good with it. I have a trick or two to help me retain a modicum of the sense of self worth I had when I could still beat my friends in a free-for-all death match, 50-0.

It behooves any masquerading mendicant to remember that even though the people you know have bigger wallets, they’re still the irresponsible idiots you learned to love all those years ago. So if one of them says, “Let’s go for drinks at Top of the Hub,” don’t start getting sick over the thought of $16 mojitos or $12 glasses of water. Look that person right in the eye, and say, “Just tell me when, and I’ll be ready.” The closest most of us will ever get to a responsible person who follows through on plans is learning who Abraham Lincoln was. By putting the onus of preparation on someone else, you can nearly guarantee that the plans won’t ever happen, but that feeling of accomplishment that your group at least planned something nice will definitely linger for weeks at least.

Another strategy is a little more risky, and it involves getting a job. I don’t handle rejection too well so I was really putting my heart on the line every time I tried this approach. On the other hand, for a long time, I could proudly and literally say that no one was the boss of me. I have friends that suggest that I should get into investing in things like Cannabis stocks; maybe I’ll look into that.

And, hey, don’t you be too proud to slip a little Monopoly money in between the $6 you keep in your wallet. It takes money to make money, right? Or something.

I was driving back from Maine this winter after my roommate, friends, and I had gone on a vacation at Sunday River, where I had pretended to break my leg slipping on the ice in the parking lot so I didn’t have to pay for a lift ticket. It was 3 in the morning and I was in that liminal zone between sleeping and feeling guilty that I was sleeping when my roommate had been driving for four hours. As we crossed over Brighton Avenue, I happened to look out the window in time to see a lone girl sitting on the bench at the 66 bus stop who was playing an acoustic guitar. There was no one within earshot. Her fingers must have been frozen stiff. But still she played. And I thought, well, that’s something right there, isn’t it? At least, I told myself as the city slept, as the night sighed, as the girl strummed on … at least I can always make fun of her to make myself sound richer. In all seriousness, it is a skill to play an instrument, maybe it is something I can take up? Take a look and find the best acoustic guitars for large budgets, I am ‘richer’ after all.

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