When we are young there are milestones that we look forward to years ahead of time. The first big privilege is getting your drivers license. In my home state the law allows someone who is 15 and 10 months to start drivers ed and at 16 you can get a learners permit. I wasn’t going to waste any time, so I took the week long intensive course to speed up the process.
Eighteen is a big one: voting, tattoos, credit cards, checking accounts, cigarettes, lottery tickets, joining the military and more. Basically this is when you become an adult in society and it feels pretty darn good (and not just because of the new-found access to porn).
We all know about 21: liquor, gambling and guns. Wow, that’s a lot of really fun, alarmingly unhealthy new options.
This year I turned 25 and I can admit that I was excited to be allowed to rent a car. Honestly. I guess once the luster of drinking, casinos and firearms dies down all we have left to get uppity about is renting a car. I have been 25 for 7 months now and I have yet to walk into a Hertz. It’s not like 16, 18 and 21 where you plan an evening to take advantage of all your new allowances on your birthday. The urgency has vanished and it becomes enough to just say you can rent a car.
Here is what is alarming though, after all these incredible landmark occasions it all stops. There is suddenly nothing left to look forward to except for retirement in 30 years (I shouldn’t say nothing, you politicos can run for President at 35). You can be a member of AARP starting at 50 which gets you senior discounts plus the AARP magazine! Next, at 59 and a half (really?) tax law allows you to withdraw money from pensions and IRAs with no penalty… try not to pee your pants, I know this one just got you all excited. Starting at 62 you can choose to start collecting social security, although this isn’t fun because if you do decide to utilize this right at that age it’s not really the best financial choice. It’s like, “Hey, you can take this money now, but that wouldn’t be smart… but you can“. 65 is a little bigger because that is when you can start taking advantage of all senior discounts; I can always appreciate frugality, but this seems less like a privilege and more like a nagging reminder that society considers you old. At 65 us young folk have to start cutting you slack and taking care of you, but you can take all your social security so don’t feel sad. Finally at 70 and a half (what’s with the halves?) you reach the deadline for starting a minimum distribution from all tax qualified retirement plans. I understand if you skipped over that sentence, it was as boring for me to type as it was for you to read it.
After writing all this out, I’m wishing I had appreciated my car rental milestone a little more. It is the end of gaining rights. I can officially do everything that real adults can do, and some people might even mistake me for one at first glance. I have lost sight of how many things I’m allowed to do and now I miss the feeling of anticipation. How is it that I have spent years waiting for these opportunists and now I’m not out there abusing my rights? You can be sure I won’t make that mistake again. In 25 years I’m going to throw myself an AARP themed birthday bash, it’s going to be a real hoot.