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My dictionaries define adult as a person or other animal that is fully grown.

That sounds simple enough, but think about it. What the hell does it mean?

Does it mean “reached grownup size?” If so, what is adult size? I’m a little under 5’ 6”. I’m not sure that qualifies for a male grownup size. Does that mean I’m not an adult? In some places I already qualify for seniors discounts. How can I not be an adult?

Maybe it means stopped growing at all. That doesn’t seem right either. My weight goes up and down. As a result, I sometimes still grow horizontally even though I’ve stopped growing vertically. Does that mean I stop being an adult when I’m putting on weight? And do I regress to childhood when I lose weight?

It seems so confusing and arbitrary. I propose a more precise, definitive approach to defining the boundary of adulthood. I suggest that you should be considered to be an adult when you reach the age when theaters can legally allow you into “adult films” (aka porn) unaccompanied.

They’re already defined as adult films, so we’ve already made the decision that they are for only adults. Thus, this is a ready-made adulthood milepost that has attained general and, in many cases, legal recognition.

I recognize that this definition is not without its problems.

For one, different countries, states and provinces set different ages for legal admission to adult films. Consequently, when you reach adulthood would depend on where you live. I don’t see this as much of a problem. The differences in age requirements are generally small. Besides, there are already different ages for things like when you can vote, drink and drive, preferably not simultaneously. So a minor variation in when you officially become an adult isn’t a big deal.

Another issue is that there are a few uptight countries and states that ban adult films altogether, regardless of the age of the viewers. This is a serious problem because in those countries no one would ever be considered to be an adult, least of all the leaders who came up with the censorious laws. That’s regrettable, but it’s the price we have to pay for precision in our definition of who qualifies as an adult.

In addition, I don’t know of any, but I imagine that there some countries and states don’t have any laws regarding adult films. In those jurisdiction it would, theoretically, be legal for an infant to go into a adult movie theater. Therefore, in those countries and states, even infants would be adults. Again, it’s the price we have to pay for precision. And I don’t think the infants will complain.

There is another problem. The word adult also applies to non-human animals. Animals are generally not allowed into theaters, at least not in big cities, for health and nuisance reasons. Thus, they would never be considered to be adults. Exceptions to the no-animals-in-theaters rule are usually made for seeing eye dogs. They would, thus, be considered to be adults as soon as they begin their seeing-eye duties.

The issue of nonhuman-animal adulthood is a serious challenge to my proposed definition of adulthood, but who gives a damn? They’re only animals. The hell with them.

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