Being on the cusp of adulthood is a wacky experience for what I would guess to be everyone. You're equal parts sophisticated, mature adult, and whiny, nervous child. Suddenly you're responsible for yourself in ways you may not even realize. There's a feeling of everlasting resilience that surrounds you, like you're wrapped in a layer of invincibility and your mom or dad yelling "be careful" seems like a lucky penny of a reminder that you're rich enough to ignore.
Then one day, reality forces its presence. You get yourself in a situation you're thoroughly unprepared for, and the child in you freezes. All you can do is hope and pray that the adult side prevails.
Such was the case for me last weekend. I got myself into something ridiculous that verged on terrible, and I want to share it because from it I learned the importance of open communication. At this age, things can go from fun and games to serious and uncomfortable in a matter of seconds. Speaking up when something seems off is necessary not only to ensure that everyone is on the same page, but to look out for your own well-being. To be invincible, you can not be thoughtless.
There were humble beginnings in this strange encounter. I went to a show with a guy acquaintance that I wanted to befriend to play music with. We playfully danced and were a little flirty in moments, but mainly just appreciated the music and spent time taking in the atmosphere -- nothing serious. Afterwards we road the bus back, knees touching and mouths wide open with laughter about how weird it was we lost all of the friends we came with. My laugh was genuine but under his there was a secret hidden. We go back to his place and things seemed fine. No one was else home, but I wasn't really worried. He bragged to me about his Led Zeppelin poster in the hallway and soon we retired to the couch, chatting away. I must admit that I was so invested in my stories that I wasn't as observant of his behavior as I should of been, so needless to say it took me completely off gaurd when in the middle of our completely normal and nonsexual conversation he blurted out, "Do you want to take a shower?" I was pretty floored at that point so I just spit out, "What?" He noticed my surprise timidly said, "You know, together..."
At this point, I'm holding back laughter at the sheer awkwardness of the conversation. I'm thinking there is no damn way I'm getting into the shower with this kid, but I was curious to see what else he was thinking. I asked what that meant and he acted like couldn't believe that I was saying such things, as if he assumed I would just blindly go along with it. Through a tense, pained interaction, I eventually got out of him that he planned on not talking at all after that. Like a one night stand...shower? I was amazed. This idiot hoped and prayed I was dumb enough to mess around with him and not say a word, then be completely fine with him ignoring me thereafter. Unfortunately, that type of shady, ludicrous behavior is typical of college boys. I quickly got up, grabbed my things and said, "Dude, a little advice, you're dealing with smart girls nowadays. You should probably be able to talk to them about what your intentions are before trying to take off their clothes."
As I left and thought about the situation at length, I realized what was irritating and stupid to me could've gone terribly wrong for someone meeker. If I hadn't asked questions and just went along with his plan, I would've been up up the next night worrying what I did wrong or why I wasn't worthy of a text back. To let people assume that you're sexually on the same page when your intentions are to hit-it-and-quit-it is extremely immature, potentially detrimental to that person's psyche, and severely fucked up.
The generation we are in tells us it's easier to sleep with people than be open with them and that this mentality is OK, but it's not. I'm sure this kid is no monster -- just a horny 18 year old trying to get laid -- but what he has been taught is socially acceptable is in fact horrendous.
As much fun as this age can be, it is also a vulnerable one. As strong as you are, or as carefree as everything may seem, know that other people's feeling are there and need to be taken into consideration. And for the love of everything, be careful. It's a circus out there.