We’re all familiar with the movie rating system. G, PG, PG-13, and so on. Originally implemented in the 1960s as a quick-glance way for parents to know what the kiddies should or shouldn’t see, it morphed and changed through the 90s to the system in use today.
Besides the simple letter grades, movie ratings add short blurbs like: “Scenes of Cartoon Violence” or “Pervasive Language” or even “Tobacco Use” to give the potential audience a little more context. Sometimes at the beginning of an “R-rated” movie they just go with the catchall warning: “Adult Situations.”
What exactly is the movie rating board calling an Adult Situation? When they want to caution us about nudity, they just come out and say nudity. They say sexual situations. I’ve even seen a warning for: “romance.” So what kind of Adult Situation exactly are they warning us about?
The first time I saw Adult Situations at the beginning of a movie, I wondered for a second if maybe it was going to feature extended scenes of people voting. You’ve got to be at least 18, an adult, to stand behind that little fold-up voting box… But you don’t see a lot of movies about voting. Then I thought: buying cigarettes? Renting a car?
The older I get, the more adult situations I’ve found myself in. I got married. There’s an adult situation all right, a big one. Sure, in some countries they get married at six and a half and, of course, there’s Jerry Lee Lewis and his 13-year-old cousin… But for the most part, you should be an adult before you enter into marriage. You definitely need to be an adult to stay in one for very long.
I applied for a mortgage. Had a kid. Then two, then three, and four… Car payments. Life insurance. Colonoscopies. All adult situations. Having my mother die suddenly, then years later my father and my in-laws— those were adult situations. I’d say a near heart attack and emergency quadruple bypass count, too.
You’d think after all those adult situations I’d feel more like a grown up but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure it’s because I don’t know what a grown-up is supposed to feel like. All serious, I guess, wearing dress pants every day, like my dad did? Should I speak in a deep, monotone? Is that what adults do?
I’m pretty sure I give off the air of immaturity, especially when I occasionally sit on the floor— at airports or Union Station, wherever. (My father never sat on the floor!) I wear jeans and hoodies with my homeless guy Abercrombie coat. I still read the occasional comic book, I mean “graphic novel.” Run-ins with authority, like getting pulled over for a speeding ticket, can still make me feel ten years old.
“Do not assume that because I am frivolous I am shallow; I don’t assume that because you are grave you are profound.”
Yeah, after this long, I still don’t know how to be an adult. But it turns out that might not be such a bad thing.
In her book “The Warmth of the Heart Keeps the Body From Rusting,” psychologist Marie de Hennezel writes that, in order to stay youthful and active in spirit, we need to have a positive attitude, be open to new experiences, retain the capacity for joy and wonder, and be receptive to new people and ideas. In other words, act more like children.
So despite the violence, pervasive language, and adult situations life throws at you, live more PG and less R and you’ll grow old more gracefully. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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