Don't Do These Things if You're Not a Child

By John McDonnell, Illustrations: Cei Willis

On a worryingly frequent basis, a friend will say to me: “Have you seen the latest episode of South Park? It’s so funny!” To which I will reply: “I took the step into adulthood a while back. Feel free to join me.” You see, some things are just no longer acceptable once you pass the age of 18 and begin to consider yourself a grown-up. Here is a list of some of those things.

REGULARLY EATING DESSERT AT HOME
Dessert is something you use to bribe children into eating vegetables. What the fuck are you doing sitting at home on a Tuesday evening spooning down a Rolo yoghurt while watching a Gyles Brandreth feature about Britain’s best graveyards on The One Show? Desserts are only acceptable in adult life if you’re on a date with someone you’ve just started seeing who you really like, or if you suffer from type one diabetes.

PUTTING SUGAR IN YOUR TEA
Speaking of which, are you seriously that much of a child that you can’t consume something unless it’s laced with sugar? Do you get your mum to hide tablets in a banana when you’re poorly?

HAVING A TV IN YOUR BEDROOM
There’s one place you’re guaranteed to see a television set in the same room as a bed: a hospice. Watching TV in bed is for people who are passing the time as their life slowly ebbs away. Or horny teenagers who wank over Rachel Riley in Countdown; “treading water” under the covers until the 30-second close-up in the numbers round. If you’re neither of these things, you shouldn’t have a TV in your bedroom. It makes you look like a lazy slob – the kind of person who trims their toenails with their mouth if the nail clippers aren’t to hand and goes food shopping in their pyjamas. I will bet my life that James Corden has a TV in his bedroom. Probably multiple screens on every wall. More than in a pub right next to a Premier League football stadium. He probably has TV screens built into his pillows and a hot water bottle that doubles as a remote control. My number one tip in life, when a quandary arises, is to think: “What would James Corden do?” and then do the complete opposite.

SMOKING
A cigarette is essentially the grown-up version of a nappy. By smoking you are telling the world that you are completely incapable of controlling basic urges. It’s a cry for help. You trudge out of your office to stand in the cold once an hour, every day, discolouring your teeth and putrefying your lungs just because someone you fancied when you were 14 (who is now morbidly obese and has three kids) once offered you a fag behind the school gym. And you’ve been too weak to suppress the chemically induced craving ever since. Smoking weed is a little more acceptable – as long as it’s done with two friends or more and there’s no Bob Marley involved – because at least it’s quite fun.

WEARING FANCY DRESS
I didn’t go to public school so I don’t understand fancy dress. But wearing a full-body animal costume on the streets of Britain should be made illegal for anyone over the age of nine.

PUTTING LESS THAN A TENNER ON YOUR OYSTER CARD AT A TIME
This one only applies to people in London, but if you live outside the capital the same goes for putting shillings on your tram pass (or whatever non-monetary goods you guys still conduct business with). If you regularly use public transport and aren’t totally skint, why would you not make sure you’ve got enough money on your Oyster card to cover you for at least a few days? I have a friend who will often top up his Oyster card twice in a day because he doesn’t have the foresight to work out that £2 isn’t enough to pay for him to travel across London. He must think that TfL could go bust at any point and he’ll lose all the pennies he's "invested" in it.

NOT UNDERSTANDING APOSTROPHES
It’s astonishing that there are people who have made it all the way through secondary school and still don’t know how to use apostrophes. You just need to learn two very, very simple rules, guys. (Sorry, that’s probably “guy’s” to you, isn’t it?) You’re not fooling anyone by claiming to be “a little bit dyslexic”. We all know you’re just either lazy or stupid.

BEING IMPRESSED BY FAMOUS PEOPLE
I remember the first time Mary Anne Hobbs read out one of the scores of emails I’d been bombarding her with on her Breezeblock show on Radio 1. I remember shuddering with delight as she read out my comment, which was probably nothing more profound than: “Lovin’ the vibez! Keep the good timez rollin’!” My life had reached an insurmountable peak. Finally, I had been acknowledged by someone famous.

My excuse is that I was 12 years old. Now that I’ve grown up, I realise that it’s ridiculous to get excited about celebrities. In fact, I now go out of my way to not acknowledge their fame. My set response if I’m introduced to some arrogant famous person at a party is: “Hang about, didn’t you used to play Nigel in EastEnders?” Works particularly well if it’s a woman.

SITTING BEHIND YOUR FRIEND ON A BUS RATHER THAN NEXT TO THEM

I see this all the time: three or four guys get on an empty bus and each of them sits separately, on different rows within the same vicinity on the top deck. At first they’re laughing and joking together, oblivious to what is soon to take place. As the bus begins to fill up, they become surrounded by strangers, each of them stranded on the inside seat, rendering them unable to talk to their friends. Rather than a friend at their side, there’s a flatulent builder who smells like he bathes in kebab juice every morning and night (three times on Sundays). Why on earth would you not sit next to your friend on a bus? Are you worried that someone will think you’re gay? Grow up.


APPRECIATING GRAFFITI

A friend, who is in his late twenties, said to me the other day: “There’s a sick reach on that bridge over there,” referring to a doodled spray can tag that probably spelt out something stupid like “HEMAROYD”. I stared back blankly, probably feeling something like how a pensioner feels at the onset of dementia, when everything that was once familiar inexplicably no longer makes sense. I’m sure when I was a toddler an erratic scribble with a crayon on a white piece of paper looked as effulgent and brimming with life as a Gustave Caillebotte painting. But the mind matures. No one who considers themselves an adult should have the ability to appreciate graffiti in the slightest.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS
Waking up at midday or later
Being upset if you lend someone a fiver or less and don’t get it back
Fancying your cousin
Making lists of things you dislike
Listening to UK hip-hop
Sewing badges on your clothes
Kissing your dad on the lips
Watching soaps
Not splitting the bill equally when having a group meal in a restaurant
Wearing a cap (if you’re not going bald)
Lying about having sex

Follow John on Twitter: @thewebsiteyep

Illustrations by Cei Willis.

More tips on how to grow the fuck up:

The VICE Guide to Adulthood

The VICE Guide to School

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