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, 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.