Calum McSwiggan

We Can Do Whatever We Like

In Eat on August 16, 2012 at 8:54 am


‘I believe that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise’

– Margaret Atwood 

After hanging around with teenagers in Italy it was quite a big-leap to start spending all of my time with thirty-something professionals in Amsterdam-I often still think of myself as a teenager, and being reminded that I am in fact an adult was a very much needed and highly appreciated wake up call.

When I first visited Amsterdam in my late teens, I over-did it on the space cakes, and ended up making a complete idiot of myself by inappropriately bawling with laughter outside of the Anne Frank museum- I’d had my fill of weed and strippers, and so when I returned to visit a friend I made it absolutely clear that I had no interest in doing the tourist circuit.

I half-expected to be met with some resistance but my friend just turned to me plain faced and unblinkingly said you’re an adult, you can do whatever you like.

The phrase was coined as we walked around Rome until our feet bled, when we passed the Colloseum for the 86th time my friend threw up her hands in frustration and bee-lined for a taxi. The hotel is only two minutes away, I can see it from here, we told her, but she waved us away dismissively telling us that she was an adult, she could do whatever she liked.

Adult. It’s not a word I consider myself to be synonymous with, but she was right, I am an adult, and I can do whatever I like. It’s easy to forget that I have absolutely nobody dictating what I do and don’t do anymore. We spend so much of our time letting our families, society, our jobs, and our friends control our lives- it’s nice to remind ourselves that ultimately we are the only person who decides what we do.

The rule quickly became the mantra for the remainder of my trip. Every question was greeted with the same answer. You’re an adult, you can do whatever you like. 

Can we eat dessert before dinner? Can we eat ice cream for breakfast? Can we stay in bed til four and spend the whole day watching bad 90’s sitcoms? Do we have to pay for this dreadful beer and appauling service?

We’re adults, we can do whatever we like.

The phrase got so catchy that I found myself saying it out loud to nobody in particular. Do I have time to wash my hair this morning? I’d quietly ask myself and immediately find the answer. Should I really be spending all of my savings on mojitos? I’m an adult, I can do whatever I like.

So when I uttered my final goodbyes and everyone asked where I was headed next, and I answered with Budapest, I was greeted with a chorus of why? I answered with nine sweet little words that concluded my trip.

It was a fool proof expression that could justify pretty much any decision, that was until the ticket inspector asked me why I was sat in 1st class with a 2nd class train ticket. He didn’t appreciate my response and I had to evasively run down three carriages to avoid getting thrown off the train.

I’m an adult, I can do whatever I like.

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