Everybody knows the big ones in your youth: first time you drive a car, first time you kiss someone, first time you fuck in a tree, etc. Then there’s the first time you have a legal drink, and that’s the end of big firsts, right? Because getting old isn’t so much about “firsts” as emerging trends: you start peeing more at night. You start thinking about your credit more. You don’t have as much energy. Fuckin’ hangovers, man, you don’t even know.
But that’s not true. Big life “firsts” continue long after you take that first legal drink at 21. They’re just not as famous. Until now.
Also this may seem weird but since I write for Cracked I’ve completely forgotten how to write things that aren’t lists.
6. The First Time You Hear a Fucked Up Story About Your Parents
I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve already heard this story. It’s when they went to Mexico, and my mom was heating a burrito, but it was too hot, so she threw it out the window and it hit my dad in the face and he was blind for like two days but they got wasted on Tequila anyway.” Or maybe it’s “That time mom didn’t bother to pick up the dog poop because it was on her boss’s lawn.”
There is no higher form of dissent than ninja-pooping.
But you’re wrong. Because you haven’t heard the story about the time that guy spilled a drink on your mother’s lap, so she leapt over the bar and beat the shit out of him until your cousin had to drag her off the poor sucker, and she was still cackling like the wicked witch of the west, and there was skin and blood beneath her fingernails the next morning.
You haven’t heard that story. But you will.
5. The First Time You Eat an Entire Frozen Pizza…
…and then find yourself thinking “oh… fuck me.”
The weird thing about eating healthier is that, for most of us, it doesn’t happen because we wake up one day and think “Gosh, the abstract concept of mortality suddenly seems concrete and real, and it’s an easy decision to swap the temporary satisfaction of junk food for the long-term benefits of living long enough to see the 2024 reboot of the Lord of the Rings franchise (Starring Shia LaBeouf as Gandalf).”
Which makes more sense once you learn it’s an edgy, modern re-telling where Gandalf is a Meth dealer.
No, eating healthy happens because one Friday night you decide to go out, but realize you’re hungry. Not wanting to slam whiskey-sours on an empty stomach, you grab a frozen pizza, toss it in the oven without pre-heating it, and then scarf the wad of burnt dough and crispy cheese down in less time than it took to cook it.
Then you cry, my friend. You cry forever. You cry tears of an agony you’ve never known, for hell hath no fury like cheap frozen pizza. And then you decide that maybe it’s more of a lite-beer night.
4. The First Time You Completely Forget It’s Friday Night
One day, after work, you realize that you have all this stuff you have to take care of, and decide that today is as good a day as any, because fuck it, Borderlands 2 will still be there in a couple hours. So you log in to Turbo Tax, pour yourself a glass, and get to work.
Then you start to wonder how long it’s been, so you reach into your pocket to grab your phone. Only it’s not there — it’s in your jacket pocket, and your jacket is hung up in your bedroom. Instead of getting up to go get it, you just glance at the corner of your computer. 9:30. Well, that’s not that bad. May as well take care of your credit card bill, it’s almost the first of the month, and it’d be nice to not be last-minute on that for once. Damn, you’re on a roll!
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Finally, at 12:42AM, you finish up your last thing, and head to bed. But you check your phone, first, because you need to set your alarm for work in the morning…
…and then you see the texts. Thousands of them. All about drugs, or punching strangers, or hospital visits. One of them is just a picture of boobs, with no explanation. And then you realize you don’t have to set your alarm for the morning after all, because it’s fucking Friday and you just missed everything cool.
3. The First Time Someone Having Innocent Fun Pisses You Off
Some day you’re going to get on a bus, and the bus driver will sing a little song or make a little joke about every stop. He won’t talk a lot, but it’ll be just enough to where you notice it.
And instead of thinking “hey, it’s nice this guy has managed to make his monotonous job fun,” you’ll think “It must be his first day. He’s probably a failed entertainer of some kind. What a sad little man.”
And it’ll be days before you realize what a shit-head that thought makes you.
2. First Time You Aren’t Ashamed of Your Groceries
That’s right, check-out-lady. I’m buying pasta and celery and motherfucking brussel sprouts and mushrooms and raw meat and seasoning and oh fooey, I forgot the darn milk oh well, I’ll pick it up at the gas station home.
The one in the Negative Zone.
And then you swipe your shopper’s card, and get that receipt for a 5% discount for some weird kind of cheese that you actually recognize and you think to yourself I bet that would taste good with chicken and maybe some green beans.
1. The First Time You Realize All Your Problems Aren’t Unique to You
This one might actually happen in shifts. I remember I a conversation I had my junior year of college. This woman, who was a sophomore, said “See my problem is I have trouble figuring out how to balance between ‘work’ and ‘fun.’”
I remember saying “yeah, I know what you mean,” but thinking “Yeah, welcome to the human race, dumbass.” It seemed like such an obvious problem, that everyone has. Of course you have trouble balancing between that, because at its heart, its the exact same problem as the “eating” thing I already talked about: You’re trying to balance between short term satisfaction and long term satisfaction. Grow up, lady.
It was years later before I realized I was doing the exact same thing. And it was such a strange conversation that tipped me off: I was talking to my uncle about whiskey, and I remember saying “it sucks because my favorite is Jameson, but I can’t afford it.” He laughed and said “yeah. Everyone’s favorite is Jameson.”
Since that day I’ve learned how hideously ignorant I was being. Mainly because Laphroaig’s is obviously superior to Jameson in every conceivable way, but also in my assumption that such a straight-forward problem was somehow unique to me. It really made me re-analyze a lot of things I’d said over the past few months: calling my mother and complaining about how hard it was to keep track of all the different bills I had to pay, and how my cat was sick and I didn’t know how to pay for it, or that I never seemed to have enough quarters for the laundry machine and oh woe is fucking me.
I know this doesn’t apply to every problem. I know that some people have objectively more shit to deal with in their day to day life than other people, but I also know that everyone thinks that they’re those people. Deep down, no matter who you are, you do too. You think that no one else has ever been passed up for a promotion for the exact same injustice you were, or that no one has ever been late for the bus for the same stupid reasons you were, or that no one else always forgets the eggs. But trust me. It’s happened to everyone.
It’s happened to me.
And when it did it was like, way worse.