21 is Perfection This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I already know that my twenty-first year of life will be the best. What could be better than being away at college, living on my own, driving wherever I want and making my own money to spend as I please?

When you’re 21, you always look good. It’s a time in life when beauty comes naturally, and you don’t worry about what other people think of you. You reek of self-confidence and have the power to voice your opinions anywhere at any time, and people will listen because all the old government guys claim that the “young people” don’t get enough of a voice in the world.

I can picture it now, sitting in a coffee shop with a thick book that looks like it would discuss the beginning of time and how human beings came to be and what’s right or wrong. Really it would just be something simple and fun, maybe a fantasy book. I’d be sipping on a hot chocolate and daintily stuffing my face with banana bread. I’d come to the coffee shop so much that I’d know the servers by name and they’d know my order, all I’d have to do is walk through the door and it would be sitting there, waiting for me at my usual corner table with the big purple chair.

I’d curl up and read for hours and eventually my intellectual friends would join me and we’d talk about the meaning of life and how the West was won. Then we’d go out and order two large pizzas and spend the next hour blasting college music. College music is the kind of music that drones on and on and the lyrics have deep meanings. Stuff like Dave Matthews Band would be considered college music ... surprisingly, I like it anyway.

I know you’re thinking all of this sounds great but what about classes, and I have taken that into consideration, too. You see, I have a very simple policy about that ... I won’t go. No, I’m kidding. I’d go and get good grades just so that when the college days end I’d have a way of getting a job and start my middle-aged mode. You know, the part when you work and work and work, and then you get married and have too many kids to remember each one by name.

While you have kids you continue working and suddenly you have a mortgage and bills that just keep on coming, and slowly each day morphs into one long lifetime. Even your weekends aren’t relaxing because the kids are doing something and going somewhere and once in a while you plan family things, but then when the day comes, you all find some reason to back out. Then you find yourself complaining to anyone who will listen (i.e. your spouse) that the family doesn’t do enough together.

Your husband, who was once at least mildly handsome even if he wasn’t the pick of the litter, now has a beer belly from spending every Tuesday night with The Boys, who are around 40 and spend their lives waiting around for Tuesday nights to be with The Boys. They have wives, too, and they have become your friends mainly because you’ve worked too hard to have time to socialize with anybody else. But the women are remotely interesting and at least you all have some things in common and those things are the grand volume of children you magically produced over the years with The Boys.

These same boys at one time had dreams of becoming doctors and heads of corporations and making a ton of money to buy a yacht so you could say to your high-society friends, “Did you see my new yacht? The walls are lined with gold, and the bathroom floors are real porcelain, and I hired two new butlers just to work for me while I ride this baby because I don’t want to have to move one finger when I get on it. No, that’s a lie. I move one finger to direct the butlers where to put my martini and that’s usually right next to me.” However, snapping back to reality, those men are actually pathetic, lazy fools who you call husbands at the appropriate times and who you are stuck living with for the rest of your lives.

Personally, I’d rather just stick with being 21.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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