Don’t get me wrong, I love being an adult. I have monogrammed pajamas, vote regularly, and file my taxes early — and I’m happy about all of it. I also enjoy legally imbibing alcohol, traveling unaccompanied, making important decisions, weeknight sleepovers, and rarely having to be vaccinated. Of course, one of the best things of all is that I can now stay up as late as I want to watch television. (I’m still haunted by missing the end of a certain episode of Mr. Belvedere.)
This weekend, like a major portion of my adult demographic, I watched Mad Men. During this episode — as many of you know — Don Draper’s 12-year-old daughter, Sally (Kiernan Shipka), accompanies her father, stepmother, step-grandparents, and her father’s partner, Roger, to a fancy business awards dinner. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say at the dinner Sally sees something she shouldn’t have, something decidedly adult. Given the earlier scene where Don (Jon Hamm) has her remove her makeup and go-go boots because she’s not old enough to wear them yet, and the way she and Roger (John Slattery) “pretend” to be each other’s dates, it was a pretty flawless encapsulation of Sally’s loss of innocence in the time it took her Shirley Temple to dilute.
I felt sad for Sally, partly due to the lack of control she had over her loss of innocence, but mostly because I love Shirley Temples and hers got ruined. It’s kind of gross how much I love Shirley Temples. However, I rarely drink them at bars for the sake of my dental integrity. Fine, everyone knows I don’t care that much about my dental integrity (except for happily flossing). It’s honestly because of the same social pretense that keeps me from ordering chocolate milk at a restaurant or blowing bubbles with a wand at a dinner party.
Yes, I know one of the perks of adulthood is autonomy, and I can technically still indulge in childish behavior if I want to do so. I’ve seen the Dead Poets’ Society episode of Community. I’m aware that I’ve gained a lot in place of my lost innocence. However, there are some things that while worth giving up, I still miss terribly.
1. Hi-C Ecto Cooler
What kind of ghoul stole this from us all? You know how I said pretense stops me from ordering Shirley Temples in bars? That rule would not f-ing apply to the green goodness of Ecto Cooler. This is only theoretical, but it’d probably make a delicious gimlet. It may have been 5% juice, but it was 100% Nectar of the Gods.
2. The Carnival
Are you kidding me! Swings! Gravatron! The mother f-ing Scrambler! These rides made me the woman I am today, occasional bout of vertigo included. It came to town every year, for only one week in June. Thursday night was bracelet night at the carnival, better known as the social event of the season. With the bracelet, one didn’t need tickets for each ride; the bracelet could be flashed for entry like a hot orange V.I.P pass. The ultimate status jewelry, said bracelet could be obtained with the money earned for a mere two extra chores that week. To this day, the only person that’s ever been more excited than me about a carnival is Wyclef Jean.
3. Play Clothes
It was acceptable to wear sweatpants to life events with a much higher frequency than it is now. Also, for some of my childhood I had a school uniform, so there was a section of my wardrobe specifically labeled “play clothes”. I would need to pack play clothes if we were going on a trip. I like the idea of having separate outfits devoted only to “play.” Also, if I ever forgot what I was supposed to be doing I could just look down at my shirt — I imagine that is the same approach surgeons use.
4. Kids Menu
Sometimes I just want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I’m at a Mexican restaurant. Occasionally, I’d like a grilled cheese and I’d like it not to cost $10.95 with tax and tip. The Kids Menu solves both of these problems, and it also manages to get people psyched about eating something called “fingers.” It’s obviously amazing.
Again, the strictness of definitions, simplicity, and the luxury of optimism apply here. Then, summer started the day school got out. Now, summer vaguely begins around when air conditioners need to be hauled out of storage and shoved into my window, while I almost die in the process. At least that seems like the start of summer but who can say for sure, as there is no demonstrable change in my schedule. However, I probably enjoy my summer vacation trips much more now as they are in no way related to patrolling a demarcation line in the backseat of my parent’s car that rivaled the Korean demilitarized zone.
Still, I would love to be able to get as excited as I once could at the sight of that Country Time lemonade commercial. Watching this commercial, my inner monologue went something like: “OMG OMG summer! No school! Play clothes! Friends! Ecto-cooler! Beach!” However, I guess I should be thankful because I no longer have that end-of-August dread, a dread that was only heightened by a second Country Time commercial warning me that summer was almost over. Those Country Time dicks really toyed with my emotions. Also, being an adult means I am no longer tempted to ride on a slip-n-slide, which is good because they hurt like hell. Truly, in the end, losing all of this is worth never again sustaining multiple injuries from that sonofabitch slip-n-slide.