Growing Old?

My girlfriend and I moved into our new apartment about 2 weeks ago, and no one has had a chance to come over and see it. So Erin decided to invite an old friend of hers over to dinner, and to bring a date.

Normally I'd be ok with this; at our old places, we held casual parties all the time, and every Thursday night we have a mini-get-together. We usually watch a movie or some TV, listen to music, and sometimes play magic. Beer was always a guest.

This was different.

I met guest #1 (Roy) a few times before but never *really* got to know him. Guest #2 (Renee) I had never met before. I had no idea what to think of these people, what their likes or dislikes were, or if they liked beer. These were strict Erin-friends.

It turns out they were a nice, normal couple. You know, the kind your parents would have over when you were a kid. We talked about jobs, cooking, and the meal before us. We drank red wine and had a nice chicken and vegetable dinner. They even brought a baked-from-scratch pumpkin pie. We played a round of Balderdash, then we listened to mellow music, and finally finished the night off with sitting on the couch and talking.

Just like my parents did.

At first I thought that I wasn't quite in the come-over-for-dinner stage in our relationship with Roy and Renee. I thought a pair of couples should go out and do something a few times first.

But after some thinking (mainly done during the writing of this node) I slowly began to realize; it's times like these when you really get to know someone. You really get a feel for their normal personality, the people you will become friends with. Not the party-person that lasts merely one night long.

A "Party-Friend," as any party-goer will know, can be wildly different from a true friend. I know how I act at parties, and it isn't "me."

This is the first day of my life that I took a relatively dull night (no hundreds of people! no 40-foot music video screen! no fog machine!), and found it truly meaningful. This night was something to write in the diary of my life, as opposed to writing it off as a one-night thing. I expect to see these people again, and I expect us to have a life-long friendship of respect and decency.

I think I'm beginning to grow up.

At the grand old age of twenty-four, I have done the whole 'dinner parties are an adult novelty' thing. I've been in a long term relationship for a long time (natch), and it was when i was 21 and my intended 18 that we started having our friends over to dinner instead of getting mashed up in a club. And just like weasello says, it was pretty much a epiphany - here were four or six or eight people who were getting to know each other intimately in a social, alcohol-fuelled but otherwise non-night-out setting. I loved it.

And i still do. There's something wonderfully intimate about being able to talk frankly and in depth about everything from pancetta to proper clitoral stimulation with a group of adults, all set to a backing track of David Gray, Dido and Turin Brakes. But the last few months, i've looked across the table or along the sofa and seen adults. The people my parents had round on weekend nights when I was a young kid. And it scares me.

Because when i'm not uncorking a bottle of South African Shiraz or glazing some roasted vegetables, i spend a lot of time with my fiancée's younger sister. Jessica is fifteen, and every moment I spend with her is another nail in the coffin of my immortality. It's not that I don't relate anymore. Hell, i'm practically her confidant: personal sex-ed teacher, protective older brother, academic tutor, musical sensei, cool babysitter. She brings her friends around because she knows i'll let them drink and dance and fuck. And because i understand what the fuss is about Sum 41 and So Solid Crew. And because i'm still desperately clinging on to my teenage years.

Because that's what it is. I can look myself in the mirror and still know that i'm cool. That i'm wearing the latest fashions. That i'm listening to the latest music. That i'm epitomising the aspirations of teenagers all over this great nation. But sooner or later, i'll be just another washed-up old fucker, espousing the virtues of Guns 'N' Roses over Linkin Park, Friends over Buffy and the 1990 49ers over the 2002 Pats - to kids who never even saw the 2002 Pats play.

All i'm asking is for the clock to go back and me to be fourteen again, with a decade of flirting, rebellion, dreaming, sex, drugs, music, video games, freedom, hot summer nights and ice cold Southern Comforts, Rage Against The Machine, Baywatch, teenage hotties and the internet ahead of me. That, and ten years until I realise that *this* is life....work, pay, houses, furniture, relationships, wine, MOR and wife-swapping.

Most of all I hate the fact that I'm twenty-four years old and I honestly believe that my best years are behind me. I'd give everything I own for the cure.

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