Where do I start? Ah yes. With a twentysomething-year-old boy.
One evening, I’m longboarding down the red-brick streets of my town (because my life is an indie movie) and I run into a friend of a friend. He comes into the coffeeshop regularly and compliments my face.
So naturally, I trust him.
He says to me, “You know what I want to do with you? A mey-mey.”
How exciting. A new word.
He explains how he and his twin sister would press their cheeks against each other and call it a mey-mey. They did it more so as kids but every now and then he says to her, “hey, sis, can I have a mey-mey?”
So now he asks me for one because my face is just so perfect for it.
I don’t say sure but I don’t say no thanks either. Maybe because I don’t want to rock the boat. That’s very likely. Also, a part of me thinks what comedian John Mulaney said about weird encounters:
“Whatever, you know? You know those days when you’re like, this might as well happen. Adult life is already so %$#@$ weird.”*
So the guy leans in and presses his cheek against mine. Then he breaks away and we start talking about movies.
Okay. I’m not naïve. I know what he’s doing is cheeky. (Get it? Cheek—never mind.) But for the record, it didn’t bother me. I was like, whatever.
At the same time, though, I’m also struck by how characteristic this is of me. I’m not an intentional person. I glide along. Generally passive in my own life, like a drifting jellyfish, having things happen to me.
I don’t make bad choices. I just don’t make any choices at all.
Sometimes it means I have weird or funny encounters like the one I just described. Other times I find myself in compromising situations and I’m like, how’d I get here?
Terri Coleman, an English professor at Dillard University, problematized this for me when she spoke on life in your twenties in a podcast episode of Death, Sex & Money. She said:
“When you fast-forward to your early-twenties when there’s no one around to curate your experiences, if you don’t choose good things for yourself, you end up laying on your back trying to swallow your own vomit.”**
Metaphorically and literally.
But that really resonated with me. As a twenty-two-year-old, I feel as though choices are swirling around me. To have a second gin n’ tonic or to not have a second gin n’ tonic. To spend time with that person or to distance myself from them. To pursue this path or to plant my feet and stay put. It’s much easier to sit back and let things happen.
(I spent an hour at Lowes because they had an entire section of light bulbs and I ended up taking home six kinds of light bulbs because thank God for the return policy.)
But choices shouldn’t be burdens. They’re blessings. They’re privileges. We should be intentional about how we use them. Ghosting past them—even when your Christian conscience could inform and guide you—can lead to choices being made for you. And that’s not always good because not everything is good for you. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says:
“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.”
So learn from my realization. Make choices. Be intentional. I’m trying to grow in that. Coleman said how when we give up things in order to have things, we find contentedness in our decisions. As a Christian, I hope I make choices that glorify God and show how thankful I am for my ability to make choices.
Especially when I encounter cheeky boys.
*John Mulaney, New in Town, “The Xanax Story”
**Coleman, Terri. “Life in Our 20s: Advice from Niecy Nash, Alia Shawkat & Terri Coleman.” Death, Sex & Money with Anna Sale. WNYC, 11 Oct. 2017