Donettes and Self-Consciousness, Then and Now

The funniest (translated: saddest) part of getting older (says the 24-year-old) is how our priorities change, or more to the point of where I’m going with this, how we convince ourselves that our self-conscious teenage predecessors were just avatars of yesteryear…when in actuality, our self-consciousness has just evolved beyond zits and designer jeans.

This occurred to me in the truest sense during a grocery run today, where I had intended to just buy some lunch meat for a quick sandwich before anchoring myself back down in the office.  On the way to the lunch meat section, I saw a bag of chocolate Donettes on sale.  Great deal, I thought.  I love Donettes.  In high school, this was lunch!

So I grabbed them and went to put them in my basket, but immediately, now I get that sense that I should be ashamed for going into a store to buy Donettes, especially as my t-shirts now leave far less to the imagination as had once been the case.  I then have to find less-damning items to “hide” the Donettes within the basket.  So before you know it, I’m buying cheese I don’t really need, or bread, or body wash or generally anything to hide the fact that my basket would have otherwise contained roast beef, turkey and plainly-visible Donettes.

Who am I kidding, though?  When I get home, the first thing I’m opening is the bag of Donettes.

If the apple tree of Eden were, say, a Donette tree, Adam wouldn't have even had second thoughts.

Along this mode of thinking, other ways in which I’ve noticed my mentality taking a turn…

On clothing.  Once was posed as which $40 polo should I wear out today that will make me look like the coolest kid in public?  Now posed as: can I really get away with wearing this mustard-and-chocolate icing-stained pair of sweatpants in public, or should I upgrade to my pair of sweaty basketball shorts?

On personal hygiene.  This is a tricky one, because you find that teenage boys generally fall into one of two categories: those that slather on cologne and Axe body spray like they’re trying to mask their scent from The Predator, and those that think sweat stains are an urban legend and all of life’s more malodorous problems can be solved with a swipe of bar soap every now and then.  Now, as a reasonable facsimile of an adult, I mostly just find myself giving everything discounted by my shopper’s card the smell test to discern which scent makes me smell like a douchebag the absolute least, while still not being flowery and effeminate?

Along this front, I find Axe to exist along a very conflicting spectrum.  Some of their body washes just scream “take my virginity to a Dave Matthews song!”  The more subtle ones are way better than the less expensive brands, so I always find myself at the Donettes crossroads of wanting to buy the more subtle scents of Axe but not wanting anyone to know I’m buying it.  It’s kind of like condom-shopping for the mid-twenties crowd, or “personal lubricant”-shopping for the anything crowd.


On facial hair.  If I would have tried as hard in high school to study for calculus tests as I did to grow facial hair, I would have received way more scholarships than I actually did.  Back then, a soul patch—kill me now—was a life achievement.  Dirt on your chin?  Yeah.  Been letting that lil’ science project for a month or two now!  I can almost picture myself actually willing my beard to life.  In my mind, it looks a lot like straining on the crapper, so perhaps you won’t want to envision the same.  BUT I WAS A MAN, DAMMIT!

Now, it’s like I wake up every other day with the habitual sex offender list look.  I yearn for the days where shaving was a swipe and a splash of aftershave, or let’s be honest, a splash of water at best.  Now, I have to take this Amber Alert beard with me everywhere I go, lest I make an effort to kill it every morning…and we know that’s not happening, because even when you work from home and largely on your own schedule, shaving is still somehow a time commitment you’re just not willing to make unless A) you know you’ll be making an effort to impress someone that evening or B) you’ve got to the point where you’re collecting crumbs and angry eyes from mothers hugging their children close in equal amounts.

On napping.  Okay, time changes nothing here.  Naps are sexy no matter how old you are.

On ringtones.  As a kid, you knew the universal truth to be this—you are judged on three things: your face, your social circle and your ringtone.  If you whiffed on your first two at-bats there, then you knew you’d damn well better have a cool ringtone, or one that distinguished your phone from all others in the room.  I went through quite a few myself, all rap-related, of course.  Still D.R.E.  The Set Up.  In Da Club.  These were pre-vocal ringtones, too, so just that shitty MIDI version or whatever, like some mid-90s NES game soundtrack substituting Simba for Curtis Jackson.

When parties got boring, or more accurately when everyone in the room proved to have the attention span of a 16-year-old, everyone whipped out their phones and started playing ringtones for each other as if anyone in the history of modern cell phone technology has ever been interested in a music appreciation course on someone else’s ringtone.  This was just how ringtones worked, though.  They defined you.  They identified you as a unique snowflake within a foggy landscape of polo shirts and crew cuts that all blend together after a while.

Of course, as an adult, you make your ringtone choice based mostly one two things: which one can I hear best that doesn’t completely shred my tympanic membrane, and which one will be the least embarrassing when it inevitably goes off during the climactic moments of whatever terrible book-to-movie adaptation your significant other has dragged to, or whatever toy-to-movie adaptation you’ve dragged your significant other to.  I prefer Windchimer, personally.  It’s loud enough to hear clearly whilst buried in a landslide of pocket change and Subway coupons, and just obnoxious enough to make me want to answer it to avoid prolonging the music without wanting to hurl it into a wall and shatter the phone to its very core (which, incidentally, is a battery that enjoys singing my upper thighs through my pocket mesh after long conversations…TMI?)

Fun fact: all NES games were required by law to feature ninjas in some capacity. Bonus points for ninjas fighting giant disembodied heads.

On transportation and cars.  As a kid, you’re most thinking GAWD, I have to drive this mom-mobile around?  Look how round it is!  It just screams GAY!  (As round things do?  As everything in high school did or does, and as that continues against all odds to be the negative descriptor d’jour?)  My friend drives a BMW!  Why do my parents hate me so much?  I almost hope I wreck this piece of shit so I can get a new car!

A couple student loan payments later, and throw in a few part replacements and tire rotations coming out of your own checking account, and the tune changes significantly: how much longer can I continue to drive this piece of shit car before I have to junk it?  Please don’t die on me!  Please give me just another day!  Please justify that last $500 repair for another week or so!   I don’t even care if a homeless man would turn his nose up at the prospect of living inside you (note to self: use that as witty retort about someone’s ugliness, preferably at a classy soiree while wearing a tuxedo and double-fisting martini glasses), I just need your services for one more paycheck!

On being seen with your parents in public, specifically a movie or restaurant.  As a kid: please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see…oh, hey, Mike, I was just…uh…well, you see, I’m…

As an adult: OMG FREE SHIT!

Actual photo from one of our family dinners out.

On underwear.  As a teenager: will everyone like me more if I wear my American Eagle boxers or my Abercrombie boxers?

As an adult: damn, fell asleep before I could do laundry last night.  *sniff test*  Yes, these will do for today.  Depending on how many hours I put in, and what’s on TV tonight, maybe for tomorrow too.
On social media.  As a scalawag: LOL, gang sign or middle finger with thumb up!
As an adult: LOL, potential employers!
On Degrassi.  As a rapscallion: I hope nobody knows that, sometimes, when I’m really bored and wired, I watch Degrassi marathons from midnight to 6am.
As an adult: I hope nobody knows that, sometimes, when I’m really bored and wired, I watched Degrassi marathons from midnight to 6am.


On running into high school classmates in public.  As a scoundrel: whoa, I know, like, everyone here!  Sup dudebro?  How you doing, girl?  Man, I’m awesome.  I have a lot of friends.  It’s awesome to see everyone away from school so we can talk about the same things we say in the hallways but just say “fuck” a lot more.
As an adult:  please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see me, please don’t let anyone see…oh, hey, Mike…

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