Three signs that I’m still not an adult.

I am 45-years-old which puts me squarely into the category of Middle Aged Adult, but it’s often easy to forget that because there are Things That Adults Do which I have yet to master. Here’s three of them:

1.) Own and display art. My parents weren’t exactly art connoisseurs, but the walls of the home I grew up in had its fair share of artwork — both personal and commercial — along with decorative sculptures or hangings purchased on a whim somewhere along the way. I also have several friends who have various bits of art that compliment their homes nicely.

My apartment has walls bare of anything that isn’t a clock or a calendar or a coffee mug rack. I keep telling myself it’s because I live in an apartment and they have rules on what we can do with the walls, but the truth is that even if I had a house of my own I wouldn’t know what to hang on it. I have no art appreciation skills at all. I don’t go to art museums very often (like once in a decade) mainly because I look at it and utterly fail to understand why it’s of any significance. I can give a generic “I like that” or “that’s shit” comment, but really I can’t think of any painting or sculpture that made me feel anything other than mild disinterest.

2.) Do handyman stuff. Again I like to blame this on living in an apartment, but when it comes to fixing things like my car or hanging up a whatnot shelf I am in way over my head before I even begin. I realized this the other day when the damaged front bumper of my Honda started to rub up against one of the wheels when driving at speed. Someone in our complex backed into our front bumper a little while ago and I’ve not gotten around to dealing with the insurance company to get it fixed in part because it was just ugly and not affecting operation of the car. Being mostly plastic it flexes in the wind and has gotten weak enough that it was banging against the front wheel. Plus the airdam was loose and flapping and occasionally scraping the ground.

I was going to have our mechanic take a look at it, but my cubemate suggested I could just zip-tie it up myself. At which point I explained that I didn’t really have the tools or the space to do it. So he had me go by his place and he did it in about 20 minutes. It’s not a permanent fix, I’ll still have to get it repaired, but it’ll do for now. As I watched him work on it it seemed like a simple enough thing to do, but I’d be damned to say I would’ve known where to start with it myself.

I get the same feeling whenever anyone talks about home maintenance stuff they did over the weekend. “Yeah, I had a busy weekend.” they say, “I mowed the lawn and edged it with the gas trimmer and then I fixed that leaky faucet and painted the trim on the house and built the dog a new dog house with his own wading pool and then I completely stripped down cleaned and rebuilt my truck’s transmission and then patched the foundation near the back garage door that cracked when I dropped my overly huge and manly testicles on it.” To which I’ll reply, “Yeah, I had a busy weekend too. I got a new high score in Call of Duty: Medal of Warfighter Soldier Dude.” They’re always impressed with my accomplishment.

3.) Take vacations where I actually go somewhere. I blame this at least partially on working as a contractor for 20+ years where it is rare the company you work for offers vacation time at all. The few contracts that did usually only offered a week a year and it also doubled as sick time which they called “Personal Days.” Since having been hired as a Real Employee by my current employer I get three weeks a year for time off. This one isn’t entirely my fault as my wife’s job isn’t as good as mine and although she does get time off after working X number of hours, it also “Personal Days” and has to be used for sick time and she doesn’t get as many days as I do. This makes it rare that she has enough time at a time when I have time that we can actually take time off together.

Above and beyond that, however, is the fact that I’m not a very good planner or saver. I’ve not been to Disney World since I was 17 and went with my parents and siblings. I’ve wanted to go back for years and they’ve opened another two whole parks since I was last there (Epcot had just opened the last time). That’s an expensive trip even for just two people and even if we had the time we just don’t have the money. I’m always awed by people like my parents or my in-laws who take real vacations to places other than the living room couch and I often wonder how they did it. Truth is I know how they did it, but I still feel like I don’t know because I can’t seem to replicate it.

There are other things that occasionally remind me that I’ve still not quite made it to adulthood despite my age, but these are the three most common things that trigger that feeling. They are all things I grew up thinking adults inherently knew how to do and that, sooner or later, I’d develop the same ability. Perhaps there’s a class I missed somewhere along the way that would have taught me all these things. Not that it matters, I probably would’ve goofed off during it anyway.

7 thoughts on “Three signs that I’m still not an adult.

  1. Man, I’m with you on all three and I don’t even have the apartment excuse! I’ve been feeling old lately too, so this helped.

  2. Well, we suffer from the opposite syndrome re art: buying stuff without having any idea where we will put it.

    Handyman-wise, though, I’m right there with you. I grew up in a household that third-partied everything of that sort; we were very thrifty, but very unhandy. My father-in-law, though, has both taught me gobs _and_ (even more importantly) bought me the tools that actually make the work doable.

    I’m now at a point where I know what I can do, what I want to do, and what I should instead hire others to do (carpentry I do, electricity I do to a very limited degree, water even less, and gas and cars are for professionals).

    Vacationwise — I’ve done the Wildly Intense Research and Planning thing, but have backed way off of that as I’ve gotten older, both because it’s tiresome and because it’s possible to have a lot of fun even without it. Indeed, we’re beginning to appreciate trips where there are others doing at least some of the caretaking — tours and the like — so that we can relax (and, if something goes wrong, bitch at someone rather than feeling like an idiot for not having planned properly).

    Plus my wife does travel agency work so well, she could be a professional.

  3. I’m here to tell yo that the vacation thing is done by so many because it is necessary.

    It’s only been the last few years that I have started taking formal vacations. We try to NOT do the all-inclusive style. My GF has used VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) to gte us very nice places for pretty good rates.

    This year we spent 9 days in Puerto Vallarta for less than $1800-including spending money…stayed in a Palapa open air house literally 40 yards from the beach on an eco-preserve 20 miles from town(water taxi to get there)..

    It was incredible.

  4. Ohh, and get a five gallon waterjug and start religiously throwing your pocket change in it, everyday. That paid for more than half of our PV trip.

  5. James, I have a big Coke Bottle Bank that’s nearly a third full of pennies and miscellaneous silver coins that I should probably drag to a Coinstar and sort through. I don’t think it has all that much in it being comprised mainly of pennies, but I hear it adds up. Having $1800 to spend on a vacation is a pipe dream for me.

    ***Dave, if the day ever comes that I somehow manage to own a home then perhaps I can syphon some of your spare artwork to decorate it with. Goodness knows I’ll have the space.

    As an addendum about the vacation thing, I came across this article today on how much better Europeans have it when it comes to vacation time. Not only do many governments mandate time off of several weeks a year, but several have rules that actually increase your pay and decrease the taxes taken from it during that time off. Given the number of studies that show vacation time goes a long way toward making for happier and healthier workers you’d think we’d institute some of those ideas here, but that would be SOCIALISM!

  6. This year has been better, but last year muy business was really slow and we were broke. My wife told me “Wow, being broke has really made you quite the fixit man!” I was relatively handy before, but last year, I fixed my washing machine twice (two different issues) the furnace in the house, the air conditioning, and various small plumbing and electrical jobs. Every single one would have been near impossible without the internet. I found a Youtube video that showed me how to replace the clutch on my washing machine. Saved a couple hundred bucks, right there!

    So, my point is, that just diving in and doing a little research can save you money that you don’t have to buy something new, or pay a repair man.

  7. $36 a week, for me and my gf that amounts to her quitting smoking. Me buying soda for work in bulk at the supermarket instead of vending or convenience stores, me packing a lunch most days, or us not going out to dinner once a week. Dropping cable bundling for a netflicks account gets us half the way there.

    All so we can get the hell out of cold, see a bit of the world, interact with other peoples and log experiences that will be remembered forever.

    I never did them until the last four years, but somewhere along the line we realized that we could eliminate some everyday dumb so that we could live a little without going into debt over it.

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