It starts when we’re children, the desire to be older than we are. We “lie up” for the first two decades. We tack on a year or two depending on the situation, whether it’s to impress someone we’re talking to or to reap the benefits awarded to an older person. I used to lie about being older a lot. Somewhere though, and I don’t remember when exactly, I caught on. “I see where this is going,” I told myself.

You don’t get any of those days back. Not the ones that actually pass anyway. I’ve written a thousand things in the past explaining why I have ended up doing what I do for a living. The underlying theme to it all is that ultimately I cannot wrap my mind around the concept of waking up at the same time every morning and driving to some office to play some other person’s silly little games in exchange for a set sum of money.

I want to remain Pan.

I am content to continue to trick the world into paying me to do what I do now, which is basically just to travel and think. In my head I’m still a seven year old kid laying on the living room floor dreaming of dinosaurs and booby traps and foods covered in ketchup. I don’t want to grow up. I won’t. They can’t make me. They can make me pay taxes and tickets and they can hold me accountable legally for a bunch of ridiculous laws and rules, but they can’t take my days from me. I keep telling myself that anyway.

I may have found a way to keep the vultures at bay mentally, but physically… physically they are beating their wings at the walls and doors like the end of a Hitchcock movie. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been neglectful of my body, but I also have not done the greatest job of self-preservation. If the body is a temple mine is one of those that the Incas abandoned centuries ago.

Fifteen years ago I was in amazing shape. I was young. I had never touched a cigarette. I was running a sub five minute mile. When I think of the last fifteen years however, I am surprised any part of me is still mobile. A decade and a half passed where I ate fast food literally three times a day. That rhythm was only broken if someone I knew cooked. It certainly wasn’t going to be me. I was been anything but inactive over that particular stretch, but that was my competitive streak and not an attempt at actually exercising.

Even after all of that abuse, I managed to squeak out an eight minute mile a year ago, ending with me throwing up and almost drowning in fountain in Dallas while my “friends” Titus and Rachel laughed at my convulsions… but I was really proud of that eight minutes. **

And then I quit smoking. My body started making decisions for me. My body decided that if I was going to deprive it of one vice then it was going to force me to fix all the rest. And now we’re mad at each other.

We had an agreement, I thought. It would keep my metabolism an ungodly high rate and I would continue to feed it delicious What-a-Chicken sandwiches with cheese. That was the contract. You fix whatever I do to you and I’ll make sure it’s worth it. Well, one of us reneged on our end of the deal. I took the cigarettes away and it slowed down my metabolism. In return I had to cut out the relentless pursuit of double cheeseburgers. When those went my body decided it would jab at me with hunger pangs. I met those with attempts at running to distract myself and that was met with knee pain. My body is resistant to anything healthy. It fights it like a virus. We’ve battled every day for over a year now.

I still won’t eat vegetables but I am over the fast food part.

I realize it may appear a little whiny to be upset over what has never been more than a ten pound swing in my weight, but it is principle. Other people deal with these things, not me. The people with regular jobs and kids and mortgages. Not me. I have to find a way to justify growing up in this one regard. I have to convince myself that I have to make these adjustments now in order to better run my little Neverland.

That will all sort itself out though. I’m going to take my motorcycle out and go play in the sun. I’ve wasted enough of my day already.


** The rest of that story can be read here:

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SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

18 responses to “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    Growing up is so overrated.
    Glad you’ve thrown away the cigarettes though. Wish I could say the same…

  2. Slade says:

    I quit with Chantix. I was at three packs a day towards the end, but that stuff is witchcraft.

    • John says:

      I tried the Chantix, and the crazy dreams it gave me pretty much ended that after a week. I dreamed of, not kidding, David Bowie, who at the time was telling me that I was dreaming. And then I woke up– in the dream. When I finally actually woke up, for the first time in my life I couldn’t tell if I was still asleep. It was a very disconcerting feeling, and it lasted a good three hours.

      I still envy your “no smoking” and “eight minute mile” thing. I’m in the god-damned military and I can barely run a nine minute mile. That makes me very unpopular. But so does my constant arguing over the stupid shit I see every day, so they can just take my over nine minute mile and stick it up… oh, never mind.

      Great post, by the by. I love to hear I’m not the only one struggling with all of this.

      • Two years ago I quit with Chantix. Fractured my big toe in the process. Woke up one night with my arms flailing beating the shit out of my bed and managed to take a chunk out of the drywall with my foot. Most intense and lifelike dream (nightmare) I’d ever experienced. Thank God I wasn’t married then and living with my wife. I probably would have broken her nose and taken the dog out.

  3. Quitting smoking is such a complete and total bitch of a thing to do. High on my list of Things To Do Should I Ever Have Access To A Time Machine is go back to a certain night, about ten years ago now, and slap my stupid seventeen-year-old self for taking that first drag.

    Then again, I wanted to impress Sarah deLacey, and she was pretty good-looking, so, you know. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    • Slade says:

      I remember my first one quite clearly. This is easy to say now that I’ve quit, but I don’t know that I regret all those years of smoking. It seemed to serve a purpose and it solidified my identity at the time. I’ve come to be comfortable with even my worst decisions over the years.

      So was Sarah impressed or what?

  4. Irene Zion says:

    I really know what you mean, but it’s WAY worse for me.
    In my head I’m at the MOST 23, then I pass by a mirror and see my grandmother passing by.
    I wanted to be Peter Pan too.
    Sucks to be human.

    • Slade says:

      Mirrors are such enemies. What I like is the rare occasion that I pass one, glance up, and catch myself smiling as I say, “Damn, I really made it this long?” 🙂

  5. Kimberly says:

    I have only smoked one cigarette in my life. I was 17 and my hair was long. I couldn’t take the smell in my tresses, so that was that for me.

    As for the rest… it’s only just begun to hit me that I’m no longer young. And it’s freaking me the fuck out. Good to know I’m not alone.

    Ketchup totally counts as a vegetable. Tomatoes, right? Wait, that’s a fruit. Nevermind.

    • John says:

      I justify my vegetable intake with french fries and onion rings. Those definitely count. Screw what the nutritionists say.

    • Slade says:

      I remember my first one at 17 as well. It was an amazingly sinful, lightheaded feeling that was amplified by the fact that I could buy twenty such sensations for only $2.00. And my hair was long too at the time…

      Viva la ketchup!

  6. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    Growing up only makes you feel old. And the changes one sees in one’s body are frightening enough. No need to change one’s reckless attitude too. And while I don’t smoke, and totally understand that not smoking is better for your health, I love all the people standing outside their homes or office towers and smoking, and letting me bum a cigarette once in a long while.

    • Slade says:

      Despite quitting, I still hang out outside with the smokers. They are way cooler people. I equate being a non-smoker with being a Dave Matthews fan. It’s a cool thing to be, but you have to accept the fact that everybody else that does it is a total douchebag.

  7. sadeethya says:

    I am now officially a fan of Slade Ham. I love his writings. Honest.

  8. Carl D'Agostino says:

    Just one wish

    Ah to to fly and swoop just as high as I can.
    To soar through the air unshackled like Peter Pan.

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