The Age of Innocence

There was no known drinking age before Prohibition in 1919. However, the drinking age was changed to 21 after Prohibition. Later the drinking age was lowered to 18 in 1972 with the passage of the 26th  Amendment, partly because in the past it was widely debated as to which age the brain may have been considered fully developed. Many believed it happened in the mid to late teens. Then came along some evidence to suggest that development may happen around 20. These days a consensus of neuroscientists agree that brain development likely persists until at least the mid-20s – possibly until the 30s.  It is still widely debated as to which age the brain is considered “fully mature.”

Which brings me to two stories 40 years apart.

The first being with our newly-hired 26 year old gardener. I say ‘newly hired.’ He is a college graduate in sound engineering and is looking for a job in his field…with this bad economy. So, we asked him in to manage some chores which involved a lot of bending over that hubby and I were not able to do without some help from our “nerve medicine” – the kind that upset those prohibiting this elixir during Prohibition.

This young man is multi-talented. So much so, we left him on his own to plant a few hostas in our garden. I placed the hostas still in their containers in the locations that I wanted him to dig a hole to plant them. Surveying his work, every hosta was in his correct place and nearly covered up with more potting soil. With rain coming our way on the radar, I told myself that if didn’t hit our area by 5 o’clock as anticipated, I would give the plants a good watering. Five o’clock came and went with no rain. As I started watering, I noticed something I wasn’t used to. The hostas were planted in the exact location, but were planted still within their plastic containers! This mid-20s supposedly fully developed brain hadn’t thought through the fact that roots needed room to grow, but he had never worked in horticulture either.

At the age of 22 in 1975, I had my first apartment in Atlanta. Oh, sure, I had lived in an apartment on campus with three other girls who shared all the household chores, but now I was living in Hot’Lanta with one other gal. Gone were the days of messy college-decor rooms. My new roommate and I were “practicing” on becoming adults like deep cleaning, mature decorating, and cooking gourmet meals. 

One of my first adult-decisions was to host a dinner party. I was going to have friends over for a complete meal cooked only by me. I decided on asparagus (from the can), Pepperidge farm rolls (butter and heat), wedge iceberg salad (just cut off a wedge) with croutons (from the bag), cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots (no chopping for either necessary), and started marinating the chicken the night before for extra flavor. I read carefully the directions from my family cookbook about how long to marinate the chicken, which I did.

But I left it on the counter!

The directions never said to place it back into the refrigerator to finish marinating. How was I supposed to know that? I was a novice cook, just like our novice gardener. No one had told me any differently. So, of course, the chicken was thrown away after I called my mother and she told me to do so. Although teary, I do not remember how I solved my chicken problem. Maybe KFC?

Anyhow, I see our gardener’s dilemma. He didn’t think it through – just like another twenty-something that didn’t know about cooking any better either. During my trauma finding chicken to use for dinner, I probably could have used a sip of my “nerve medicine”!

Lee St. John, a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, is a No.1 Amazon ranked humorous author. Look for her on Facebook, Twitter (@LeeStJohnauthor), and her blog at www.leestjohnauthor.com. Her new release, “SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess” can be found on Amazon.com.

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