A Guide to Living with Peter Pan Syndrome

Jun 02 at 6am

By Jules Suzdaltsev

SF is well known to be the Neverland of the West. This city’s anti-corporate, free-love, avant-garde undercurrent is the result of a perpetually youthful, if sometimes naïve, perspective. At some postgraduate point, society expects you to trade in your faux hawk and nitrous balloons for a comb-over and a Xanax ‘scrip; yet judging by the sheer volume of Hippie Hill participants last 4/20, I’d say that luckily, we never got the memo.  

Peter Pan Syndrome is what softens the bitterness of aging from turning San Francisco into a New York or Los Angeles. While in other cities young adults are busy intentionally getting pregnant and making down payments on a mortgage, we find ourselves a bit more preoccupied with drinking tall boys in Dolores Park and figuring out how many handlebars we can fit on our Burning Man bikes – because life is too short to waste on what our parents told us to do. To help the world at large, I’ve put together a guide on how to confidently make the most out of your extended adolescence.

Drugs: You’re Still Alive, So Do Them Again

If you’re reading this, then every day of your life up to this point has been proof positive that you are probably invincible. Possibly immortal. Every blunt you’ve ever hit has bolstered your mettle, just like that Friedrich Nietzsche/Kelly Clarkson crossover song, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” Anyhow, you’ve still got plenty of time to “GET FUCKED UP!!” before you get “old” and start feeling the “repercussions” and end up with a medical marijuana card for something other than “generalized anxiety.”

Sure, we talk about palate and presentation, but deep down we all know that we’re not at home because it’s impossible to survive off of spaghetti and tortilla chips alone. 

Speed Dial: Landlord/Handyman

It is a well-known fact that nobody in this city knows how to fix anything, and why would they? Your landlord took over where your parents left off, and no matter how many times you’ve blown out your power, you still have to call someone with a higher maturity rating to come over and flip the fuse because you’re afraid of being electrocuted. It’s all good, blame it on higher education and pop your landlord’s number on your Favorites list, right after grandma.

Eating: Out

Sure, we talk about palate and presentation, but deep down we all know that we’re not at home because it’s impossible to survive off of spaghetti and tortilla chips alone. This two-part social solution is a great way to avoid the responsibility of feeding yourself while also promoting local businesses and boosting your Yelp reputation, so throw away those cookbooks and grab another takeout menu.

Sex: FOMO

The only thing better than sex with someone you love is anonymous, drug-fueled, handicap-bathroom stall sex. For the past decade, you’ve been trying to find your one true, stoner soulmate, but instead you end up running into the same “four shots and a Red Bull” type of partners over and over, never destined to settle down for fear of missing out on meaningless sex.  

Style: Your Graphic Tee Has Marinara on It

Dressing appropriately for your age is a non-issue in a city where grandmothers regularly have hot-pink hair, and where the only thing hiding your beer belly is a jacket that says “#REKT” on the back. In other towns, people might be ashamed of their bodies, but certainly not here; where even in sixty degree weather, the height of fashion can consist of a brightly sequined codpiece and nothing else. Feeling out of touch? Forget that; go ahead and double-down on a chest-y V neck and skinny jeans with neon sneakers. Styles change, but your youth is forever.

 Sure, we might be childish, but our life expectancy is three years higher than the rest of the country; and from young to old, it seems like we’re the ones having more fun. So everyone else can suck it.

Taxes: My Dad Pays Those, Right?

For an underemployed San Francisco liberal, paying taxes is probably your only chance to connect with your Republican father on a topic besides sports. Although you spend more on craft beer every month than you owe to the state, you’re still going to be thinking, “What kind of bullshit is this? Ten percent of all my money? I’m moving to Belgium!” Here’s a tip: when you’re using pirated tax-prep software, select a standard deduction because you don’t even own a cat, much less children or property.

Haters: We’ll Outlive Them

SF suffers a lot of grief for being the city that never grew up. A New York acquaintance once described, with strange pride, his adult activities of having an affair, working on a screenplay, and drinking alone. This was after calling my city “infantile” and saying that it was a waste of time to play intramural dodge ball. Anyone who’s played dodge ball knows this is false, and just like crotchety old men who yell at children, the SF hater sentiment is less about any perceived grievance and more about a painful resentment of times long gone. Sure, we might be childish, but our life expectancy is three years higher than the rest of the country; and from young to old, it seems like we’re the ones having more fun. So everyone else can suck it.

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