Come June 14, I will be part of the 25 percent of the student body awarded a framed piece of paper and firm handshake that translate to, “Get the fuck out.”
As this day approaches, I’m becoming increasingly terrified of the term “grown-up.” It’s a word that was thrown around liberally throughout our youth, attached to bullshit like, “This behavior won’t fly in high school” and, “You think they’ll stand for that in college?” But now, as we enter the suit-and-tie world of our parents, the young-and-stupid shtick has officially expired. Now, spray-painting the word “smegma” on an apartment rooftop will actually be frowned upon. How boring.
I’ve decided, though, that one element of moving on has its merits – grown-up sex. Sure, it won’t be as accessible as I.V.’s square-mile free-for-all, but in its place we get something infinitely better: chivalry. Dinner dates instead of sweaty grinding in the dark. Fine wine instead of warm Natty Lite. Phone calls instead of sloppy texts. Eventually, we may even marry our choice sex partners, establishing a lifetime of blissful boot-knocking. This is good stuff.
But as I look more closely at this world, one thing is becoming clear: Mature romantic relationships mixed with a sense of financial stability are a lot like karaoke mixed with vodka. Both combinations make people believe their decisions are infallible, and that they come from an incredibly gifted gene pool. In the karaoke world, this results in forcing your friends to hear a squawked rendition of the entire “Bodyguard” soundtrack. In the marriage world, this results in babies. Lots and lots of babies.
We are coming of age in a vastly different world than that of our grandparents. Unfortunately, it is likely because of our grandparents that we’ve inherited this world – a planet plagued with dwindling natural resources, a devastated environment, a failed economic system. I love ’em to death, but the bastards popped out babies like it was an Olympic event. And with this boom of little screaming poop-machines came increased fossil fuel use, carbon emissions and a consumer culture that encouraged over-spent parents to buy things they, and the Earth, couldn’t afford.
Still, they continued to procreate. They popped babies when they were happy. They popped babies when they were sad, with the blessing of their chain-smoking, cognac-imbibing marriage counselors. They popped babies to compete with their friends and neighbors. They popped babies to chuck at each other as a guerilla tactic… my grandmother would often get pregnant to spite my straying grandfather (my father should have been named Lasso).
Soon, those babies grew to do even more irreparable damage to the world than their predecessors. They began driving to places that were more easily accessible on foot. They began insisting their fast food be both boxed and bagged. They forewent small local businesses for giant commercial shopping malls. They built suburbs with storm drains that shuttle clean rainwater out to sea, all the while pumping in polluted river water from hundreds of miles away to their kitchen sink.
And in this wastefulness popped out a mess of even needier little humans – Generation Y. We were raised on Diaper Genies and plastic bottles. We screamed for our electric Power Wheels and Giga Pets and now scream for our iBooks, iPods, iPhones and iLife.
The Earth is stretched too thin and can’t support a population three to four times larger than it was built to sustain, not to mention a Western culture eating enough resources for three to four planets. If we don’t pare our population to sustainable levels through safe sex, the Earth will do it for us, in the form of worldwide famine, drought and disease. In fact, it’s doing so now – California is experiencing its greatest drought, crop loss and cancer rates in its history.
Unlike our parents and grandparents, who couldn’t foresee a limit to the luxury, we must embrace the truth and adopt an alternative culture of moderation and locality – a culture that cannot involve using our wombs as slingshots. As far as the planet is concerned, most ecologists say that a family with more than two kids is simply unsustainable.
As soon-to-be alumni of the University of Casual Sex and Beer, we’ve earned degrees in precaution. We can roll on a condom with our mouths alone, and we’ve been educated in Plan B through Plan Z. Use this expertise as you enter adulthood. Your fellow Earth-dwellers will thank you for it.