Somewhere in your mid 20s you start having these “Ah Ha!” moments that are more “Well damn” than they are “Ah Ha!”. Moments when you realize that those “coming of age” events — driving, voting, buying liquor legally — aren’t really worth the pomp and circumstance we give them. Sure, they’re fun and are great fodder for pretentious MTV series. And they’re a uniform way of dividing up our society and measuring our lives. But they don’t really say squat about whether you’re an actual grown-up. No, being a grown-up is defined by uncomfortable events that sneak up on you and go “Boo!”
Now mind you, you think that you’ve already experienced these events. You think you understand them. But you don’t. It’s not until you really understand them that you become a grown-up.
Example? Taxes. I know, I know — you learned how to fill out a 1040 at age 13 and were filing your own at age 16. Big whoop. Anyone can send a form to Uncle Sam and get a refund check in the mail. No grown-ness required. But I’m talking about OWING taxes. That’s right. You’re not grown until that April day when you fill out the 1040 only to find that there’s a big fat number on the line across from “This is how much you OWE.”. That day, you became a grown up.
Example #2 – the water bill. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve heard about this mysterious “water bill” for as long as you can remember, and scoffed at it for nearly as long. Heaven forbid a shower last longer than 4:59 because then you were inviting the water bill rant that would last through breakfast, lunch and dinner. But that bill didn’t really exist, right? It was some figment of your mom’s imagination that she only talked about because she liked to nag and had run out of non-imaginary things to use. Even when you finally moved out into your first “water included in the rent” apartment, you were still oblivious. But eventually, somewhere down the road, the city’s bill comes right to you. And your grown up ass realizes that 15 minute showers and leaving the water running while you brush are not what’s hot in the streets.
But this is about a third grown up moment. One that can’t be remedied by creative tax shelters and 2 minute showers. I’m talking about the moment you realize you have in-laws.
Like taxes and water bills, in-laws exist in theory. When you’re dating, you probably think of your S/O’s parents and family as “nice people”.
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