I have never kissed anyone. I have never been asked out on a date. I have never asked anyone out on a date. I have never done anything illegal. I have never even really done anything egregiously against the rules. My idea of rebellion is letting a friend cut my hair with safety scissors and showing my little sister the Bo Burnham comedy specials. I live along the very narrow path of the straight-laced.
The upsides to this lifestyle: I rarely get in trouble. The downsides: I rarely do anything. The night before my seventeenth birthday saw me crying alone in my car while driving down Central Avenue because sixteen was the year and I hadn’t done anything. Sixteen was the year in which people are supposed to have a magical awakening and come of age and experience life and have a wild adventure that prepares them for the rest of their adult life. I had done none of those things. While crying and driving haphazardly through the haze of tears, I faced the revelation that I would grow old and die having never had any adventures or experienced anything vaguely interesting.
But time heals all wounds. I turned seventeen, became a dancing queen, and decided I would be fine. Besides, I was not alone in my inexperience. My friends were all on the same level of innocence and naivete as I.
Until this summer. This summer, two of my best friends had their first kisses within a week of one another, and I realized the cold, hard truth: I was the only person in my immediate friend group, and even my not-so-immediate friend group, to have never kissed anyone. I was the boring one. I was vanilla. I did not deserve to be the dancing queen. I would never have a coming of age adventure. I was going to die alone.
A disheartening thought to have. I was disheartened. Worse still, in the midst of this fugue, I had to start brainstorming ideas for college essays. I contemplated handing in a blank sheet of paper. These are all of my experiences. Have fun perusing my life story. Oh wait, I don’t have one.
Luckily, the melodrama got to me. That, and I found a note on my phone about the time I almost got eaten by a shark.
It was a stroke of brilliance. My phone was right! My sister almost fed me to a shark once! What an experience! I couldn’t believe I had forgotten about this pivotal coming of age experience I had.
Suddenly, I was swept with a deluge of other experiences. I almost fell out of a second story window and died once! I used to attend Montessori school! I have two young cousins who only speak French and are the offspring of Satan! I got in a car accident once in the rain wearing only a damp swimsuit because I was too distracted defending my driving skills to my passenger! I once sledded off a cement wall onto an equally hard cement sidewalk because I thought the experience would be similar to sledding down a hill!
I was full of experiences! Sure, I’ve never kissed a boy, but how many times have I brushed death? Um, several, at least. If that’s not coming of age, then I don’t know what is.
Everyone comes of age in different ways. I have never had a summer fling straight out of a Sarah Dessen novel. I have never had one monumental life changing adventure. I have had many small moments that are a pretty cool life story when strung together. My coming of age has been stretched out in bits and pieces over seventeen years and I will continue to come of age probably until I die. Just today I cut my hair into a bob. That’s probably turned me back four years at least.
Anyway, the point is this: having those “classic” coming of age moments is all fine and cool, I guess, but those people suck at Never Have I Ever.